The Long Island Power Authority is going to spend close to a half-billion dollars on new East End infrastructure, including the construction of a new substation in Wainscott — but officials from the company claim they don’t know exactly where.
The plans, unveiled in a LIPA report and listed under “2018 projected budget,” indicate the construction will be part of a plan to run a 138 kV high-capacity underground cable 19 miles to its canal substation in Shinnecock.
It is sobering news to Wainscott civic leaders already dealing with contaminated drinking wells and the Deepwater Wind proposal to bring a cable ashore on Beach Lane and run it through the hamlet underground. The South Fork Wind Farm, a subsidiary of Deepwater, wants to install 15 wind turbines to harness electricity off the coast of Montauk.
It is also fodder for Deepwater opponents who say the project is proof that the wind energy generated off the coast of Montauk will multiply, and the Deepwater cable will be the conduit to ship the power west and out of East Hampton Town altogether.
Clint Plummer, Deepwater’s vice president for development, said this is the latest of conjectures with no basis in fact. A LIPA/PSEG spokeswoman also said she had no information that supported the conclusion that the two projects were connected.
“The line they are building will terminate in New York City,” said Thomas Bjurlof, an energy consultant. “It’s all a shell game concocted by Governor Andrew Cuomo.” The federal Bureau of Ocean Management is going to award two more leases for wind farms off the Montauk coast within the next two years. “That’s more power than East Hampton will ever need,” he added. “It’s a massive thing.”
Si Kinsella of Wainscott, who lives on Main Street just down the block from Beach Lane, said the proposed Wainscott substation will be twice the size of the current Buell Lane Substation and the entire project has been kept from local residents. “The proposed Wainscott Substation is designed to receive electricity from a wind farm that is more than four-times the size of the South Fork Wind Farm,” Kinsella said.
“I disagree vehemently with everything Si Kinsella said,” Plummer countered. “The [information] he is circulating is absolutely wrong.”
The new Wainscott substation is mentioned under “approved” and “projected” capital expenditure within the LIPA 2017 budget, which reads: “Purchase land, establish new 138kV Wainscott substation and Install new 138kV UG [underground] cable from Canal [Substation].” The new 138kV cable connecting the new Wainscott Substation to the Shinnecock Canal Substation is designed to deliver electricity from a 400-megawatt wind farm.
Despite the verbiage, a spokeswoman for LIPA said no construction is imminent in Wainscott.
“The budget item is an if and when issue. Our planning department has identified a need for a new substation in the Wainscott area to support local load growth sometime in the future, currently estimated to be in the 2026 timeframe. However, no property has been acquired or identified,” said Elizabeth Flagler, head of External Communication for PSEG.
LIPA owns the electric transmission and distribution system serving all Long Island and a portion of New York City. Since January 2014, LIPA has contracted with PSEG Long Island to operate the grid on its behalf.
Five of the nine LIPA board members are Cuomo appointees. “LIPA does not have the best interests of taxpayers at heart,” Bjurlof said.
Plummer said the conduit used to bring the cable to the substation would have a 24-inch diameter. The cable inside will be about half. “The conduit has to be larger because it has to accommodate a device that pulls it through.” Kinsella’s contention that more than one cable would eventually be run is untrue, he noted. “There will be a single cable,” said Plummer.
Plummer said Kinsella’s charge that Deepwater, “failed to disclose the price for its electricity to local residents” was also completely untrue; it’s 16 cents per kw although some details of its contract with LIPA/PSEG are confidential, as is standard industry procedure. He also said the Deepwater energy will not “have to be paired with a natural gas plant” as has been reported.
Deepwater is waiting the OK from both the East Hampton Town Board and the East Hampton Town Trustees to submit its application to the state. “We need a decision by end of month to get up and running by 2022,” Plummer said.