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Legislators want underground utility lines



The Long Island Power Authority’s proposal to notify municipalities of plans for above-ground utility lines is insufficient, according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson).

The two men have combined forces to demand a better approach to installation of electrical lines, saying the LIPA proposal put forth in August is nothing more than the status quo that has been inadequate.

Instead they want to ensure a full discussion with stakeholders that would:

• Provide specific notification  for all future above-ground transmission projects to involve municipal government officials and affected landowners

• Require LIPA to set up an annual capital project financed at $70 million per year, or 10 percent of its capital budget, to fund underground utility lines

• Authorize local governments to designate areas for underground lines that are determined to be in the interest of the general public

• Require LIPA to pay 80 percent of cost of the underground projects designated by local governments

• Require LIPA to prioritize projects that provide the greatest benefit where the cost of designated projects exceeds available funding

Under the legislators’ proposal, local governments would have to establish special districts for underground lines that would pay for the local share of those projects. Establishment of those districts would be subject to a special referendum.

While more than $1 billion has been spent “to preserve lands of exceptional scenic value that make Long Island not only a beautiful place to live, but are also critical to the toureism and second home industry that fuels Long Island’s economy, LIPA and PSEG-LI have undermined this public investment in our scenic resources,” the legislators said in a press release.

“Without adequate environmental review and public participation, LIPA and PSEG-LI have despoiled historic districts,” the statement said.

Mr. Thiele and Mr. LaValle have asked that the original LIPA proposal be tabled and said they are prepared to introduce legislation necessary to implement their alternative proposal.

While underground lines are used throughout much of the South Fork, they are a rarity on Shelter Island the North Fork.

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