PSEG Long Island is reaching out to officials in the Village of Lynbrook and other local municipalities as it awaits approval for a $176 million project to build a high-voltage underground cable from a substation in Uniondale to one in Lynbrook.
The Western Nassau Transmission Project aims to address the potential failure of two existing 50-year-old cables, and improve power reliability and grid resiliency in the region by adding a new transmission line.
“This proposed underground transmission project, which will provide much-needed resilience and redundancy to southwestern Nassau County’s electrical grid, is in the early stage of public review,” said Jeremy Walsh, a spokesperson for the Public Service Enterprise Group of Long Island, in an email to the Herald. “No route details have been finalized.”
Transmission lines are high-voltage cables that connect to substations, which reduce power from high to low voltage, enabling electricity to be distributed to neighborhoods, homes and businesses.
There are already two transmission lines that feed into the Lynbrook substation. Adding a third, 138,000-volt cable would ensure that if anything caused a failure to the existing, antiquated lines, the power would remain on.
Walsh’s statement came after Jeffrey Weir, a PSEG spokesman, said recently that there were five possible routes for the project. Weir told the Herald last month that the most desired route would run from Stewart Avenue to Merrick Road in Lynbrook. Weir has since left PSEG.
At the Feb. 5 Lynbrook village meeting, it was brought to officials’ attention that the preferred route would mean the line would have to run under Peninsula Boulevard, which could be problematic because there is already a high-power gas main there. And Mayor Alan Beach said some residents were concerned that freshly paved roads would have to be dug up.
Walsh noted that routes would not be finalized until the Public Service Commission approved the project and PSEG representatives met with officials in municipalities that would be affected by the work. PSEG filed an application with the PSC to construct the line on Jan. 9.
The work, which would involve trenching to place the three copper cables in plastic sheathing underground across 7.3 miles, would mostly be done in the Town of Hempstead, but the project would also run through the villages of Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Valley Stream, Malverne and Garden City.
Upgrades would also have to be made to the two substations that would connect to the new line, one in Uniondale (called the East Garden City substation) and one in Lynbrook (known as the Valley Stream substation).
Officials said the work would likely affect traffic along the route, but Walsh said there would be steps taken to try to mitigate any issues.
“This construction plan, which may be filed in early 2019, will be developed in cooperation with the PSC and all communities affected by the project,” he said. “It will take into account any impacts to traffic, roadways, re-paving projects, vegetation and any overhead or underground utility lines.”
Walsh said the PSC must approve PSEG’s application for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility, and determine whether the project is needed.
“The extensive review for this application, which includes a public hearing and multiple open house information sessions, is expected to last through the year,” Walsh said. He added that if the PSC approves the project, PSEG would submit an environmental management and construction plan for review and approval. He did not know when the first public hearing would be.
If approved, the project would begin in the third or fourth quarter of 2019 and be completed by December 2020.
Jeffrey Greenfield, a trustee for the Long Island Power Authority who owns NGL Insurance Group in Lynbrook, said that Chris Chaffee, who works in government relations for PSEG, planned to speak with mayors of affected municipalities to hear their concerns. Reached by phone on Monday, Chaffee said he would defer to Walsh. Beach said he had not spoken with Chaffee as of press time.
Greenfield said he was confident that PSEG officials are eager to work with residents in affected communities.
“I think the residents can rest assured that there’s going be a lot of community input,” Greenfield said. “There’s going be a lot of dialogue and a lot of discussion before the first shovel goes into the ground.”
More information about the project is available by calling a hotline at (516) 780-0665, or visiting westernnassautransmission.com.