FEMA to fund $1.4 billion in utility repairs and mitigation
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“We’re not just building back the same,” Sen. Chuck Schumer said of the agreement. “We’re building back stronger so that the next time a superstorm hits, the lights don’t go off across Long Island. This generous amount of funding from the federal Hurricane Sandy relief bill will make sure that Long Islanders, who saw such miserable service during the storm, will not be on the hook for the repairs and improvements to the system.”
News about improvements to substations, including their elevation, should be of particular interest to Island Park residents. The outdated E.F. Barrett Power Station, in Barnum’s Channel, has had two fires since the storm, and National Grid recently proposed repowering the station — an expensive prospect for taxpayers, and for the Island Park School District, which derives nearly half of its budget, in the form of tax revenue, from the station. Should a new Island Park energy center replace the Barrett Station, much of the funding could come from the capital secured through the agreement, though that has yet to be determined.
According to the governor’s office, the agreement is intended to give ratepayers on Long Island protection against future outages, and to provide the financial resources necessary to make improvements to the utility system without the need to raise rates — thus fitting neatly into PSEG Long Island’s plan to keep rates frozen over the next few years.
“With these funds, we will be able to make significant improvements to the system — improvements that will help us better withstand the impact of extreme weather, helping to reduce outages to our customers,” said Jeff Weir, director of communications at PSEG LI. “Part of the improvement program will include protecting substations, installing sectionalizing devices, hardening overhead lines and undergrounding targeted overhead lines.”