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Letters to the Editor: Weighing in on a substation

COURTESY PHOTO | An aerial view of the PSEG substation in Jamesport, similar to one the power company wants to build on the Island.
COURTESY PHOTO | An aerial view of the PSEG substation in Jamesport, similar to one the power company wants to build on the Island.

Substation site option
To the Editor:

Our Town Board should insist on a thorough evaluation of a PSEG substation sited at the town Recycling Center.

The opposition expressed in public comments clearly indicates that the proposed location next to the Shelter Island Historical Society is unacceptable. However, to entirely reject a substation using the existing 69kV tie-line across the Island in favor of drilling another 13kV feeder is going in the wrong direction.

A local substation is superior on several counts: if either fork has a failure, the substation is supplied from the other fork, a configuration with redundancy. In the event of a major outage, PSEG’s restoration will first focus on its “backbone,” including its 69kV lines. A substation brings more power onto the Island and can be upgraded at lower cost.

Regarding location, the landfill environs are clearly more suited to an electric facility. Using a Google map tool, it was a six-tenths of a mile tap-in run to the 69kV line under West Neck Road. That might be the only cost increase over the Historical Society site with its environmental concerns. If I were PSEG (and the town), I’d take that bet over risking equal or more costs drilling another 13kV line to Conklin Point or beyond.

Moreover, with another line to Southold, we are almost totally dependent on power from the North Fork substation(s). PSEG’s presentation clearly indicated that the south feeder from North Haven has very limited capacity. If a lightning strike or other major failure takes out both north feeders, we have almost no power.

With a substation on the 69kV line, we originate power on Shelter Island rather than being at the tail end of other stations. Local repairs start from the substation instead of waiting for the off-Island feeders to be re-energized.

According to the Reporter archives, during the original 69kV line proposal in the 1980’s, the Town Board got LILCO to replace its controversial oil-cooled configuration with a nitrogen gas alternate. The Historical Society site might be PSEG’s low-cost preference. Strong direction by our leaders can again succeed in protecting our environment while enhancing our power security with a small increase in PSEG’s budget.
Shelter Island

Not the end
To the Editor:

I cannot understand why anyone would think that an electrical substation in a residential neighborhood and right next to the Historical Society’s Havens House and Barn is a great solution to bringing improved power to Shelter Island. Not only is a substation industrial and commercial, it is ugly and I suspect it at least hums and possibly makes a lot more noise than that.

The failure to lay a cable last summer is not the end of the story. It is not so difficult to do. There was a telegraph cable laid across the Atlantic Ocean in 1858 and there was one to Shelter Island before 1863.

The first electric cable from Southold was laid in 1923, and more since. Only a cable should be acceptably to tax and ratepayers.
Shelter Island

Reducing risks
To the Editor:

To paraphrase an old saying, “ugly is only skin deep.”

The proposed power substation looks like an industrial site, a real eyesore. But it can be hidden from view with proper landscaping. The noise can be abated with costly, but effective, acoustical soundproof fencing.

I’m sure that with some creative thinking, we can find a place, far enough away from homes, so as not to pose a health threat to anyone. This is not a nuclear power plant, just a common electrical substation. But public health must always be the primary consideration.

And yes, there is risk involved. A transformer in the substation could burn out and catch fire. But the transformers that are now on utility poles here also burn out and catch fire from time to time. Should we forego having electricity altogether because there are risks? We could certainly reduce the risk by requiring PSEG to replace aging transformers sooner. We could also have PSEG train and equip the Shelter Island Fire Department to deal with a substation transformer fire. Perhaps we should not have paved roads because there is a greater risk of having car accidents. Same logic; different infrastructure.

It is also risky to not have a substation.

The beauty of having a substation here is that we would be more “power independent.” With the current feeder cable system, when electric demands peak on the South or North forks, our voltage will go low and “brown out.” If they blow a circuit breaker, we lose power and “black out.” And this will happen even if Shelter Island electric demands remain normal.

This would be the same as if you were off the grid and ran an extension cord to your neighbor’s house. If your neighbor turns on all of his air conditioners and appliances, your voltage would go low. If he blows a fuse, you’ll be in the dark too.

By having a substation, we would be more power independent of other towns. We would then be drawing our power directly from the same main high voltage source. If they have a brown out or black out at their substation, it would not have any great effect on us.

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. We may not like what we see on the surface, but a substation is a great opportunity for the Rock, now and in the future.
Shelter Island

Four reasons
To the Editor

I oppose the substation projec being considered for the property near the Historical Society on Route 114.

It is too close to our Island treasure, the Havens House built in 1743 containing archives of Island history, and it would be too close to several residents.

I would not place a substation at the Town Highway Department either. The employees there should not be subjected to the health hazards of electromagnetic fields.

An electrical substation comes with risks and hazards:

1. If there were a fire or explosion the toxins from a substation could leak into our ground water.

2. EMFs are a hazard to human health.

3. Noise pollution is a problem.

4. Property values of nearby homes will decline.

Our electrical needs can be met with a properly executed cable project.

Further, PSEG and the town should encourage and fund green energy sources such as wind and solar to meet our increasing energy needs.
Shelter Island

No PSEG sell out
To the Editor:

My husband and I live at 20F South Ferry Road. Our property is right next to town property where PSEG wants to build a substation.

Our drinking water well is 15 feet from town property. Our 6-foot-tall stockade fence does not block the view of what is going on next door. From our porch, we can see PSEG’s equipment and operation, even though the trees are all in leaf right now. It will be even worse in the winter when the trees lose their leaves. To top it off, PSEG installed a high-beam light several weeks ago that lights up our backyard and shines directly into our bedroom window. The rest of Shelter Island may be dark at night, but our backyard is lit up with high voltage.

Now PSEG wants to destroy what is left of our property’s value. I cannot believe that the Town Board would be so irresponsible as to allow an industrial substation in our residential neighborhood.

My husband and I are retired and our home is our nest egg. It is the asset we rely upon for our financial security in the future, not to mention the home we love in a quiet neighborhood. An electrical substation on the other side of the fence will destroy all that. It isn’t necessary and it doesn’t belong here.

There are approximately 20 other residences that border town property. They stand to lose the same that we would lose with a substation behind their houses. Some of them look right down onto town property.
Why did the town bother to enact zoning laws and designate residential zones if it was going to sell out to industry and ruin residential neighborhoods? I am sick about this proposal. We will be devastated if the Town Board allows this.

PSEG has never said it can’t build a replacement underwater cable for Shelter Island to have additional power. What it has said is that it’s cheaper for PSEG to build the substation. The Town Board is now mulling whether it is going to allow our neighborhood ­— and Shelter Island — to be ruined for PSEG’s convenience, and in exchange for some extra cash for the town by way of lease payments or a sale of town property to PSEG. This just can’t be happening!

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Town Board in the hope they will do the right thing and refuse to sell out.
Shelter Island

A global view
To the Editor:

We have few problems on Shelter Island: the substation, the antenna and permethrin. They will eventually be solved because we, the common people, have a voice and we can vote to press our representatives to act for the common good.

That may change drastically if the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is approved by Congress. Have you heard about the TPP?

Probably not. This treaty has been prepared in great secret and no TV or newspapers will talk or write about it. If the Congress votes for it, we will be all affected, rich, middle class, poor, Democrat, Republican or independent.

Learn about it, Go to your computer and enter “Trans Pacific Partnership.”

You can also enter the name of Lori M. Wallach. Ms. Wallach has done a lot of research and written extensively about it.

Once you know what it’s all about, call your representatives asking them to say no to this treaty. We have to save our ability to have our voices heard.
Shelter Island

Another swim
To the Editor:

Years ago my brother Kim Wroble and his best friend, Johnny Hoye, swam from Louie’s Beach to Greenport. (July 17 Reporter story, “Swimming in her grandmother’s wake.”) They were too afraid to tell anyone and swam back. All of this while my father, Jack Wrobel, was giving swimming lessons on the beach. Happy they made it! Shelter Island memories.
Shelter Island