Rockville Centre, Lynbrook officials agree on route of PSEG cable project

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Village officials from Lynbrook and Rockville Centre have reached an agreement on a route for an upcoming $176 million Public Service Enterprise Group of Long Island project, which is to install a 7.3-mile, 138-kilovolt underground transmission line between Garden City and Lynbrook. 

After officials from each village were at odds over which route they wanted PSEG to take, Lynbrook Village Attorney Tom Atkinson announced during a meeting on April 15 that Rockville Centre had agreed to PSEG’s preferred route. The work, which will involve digging trenches to install underground copper cables encased in plastic sheathing, is expected to take place mostly in the Town of Hempstead, but the project will also run through Lynbrook, Rockville Centre, Malverne and Garden City. PSEG will repair any roads that have to be dug up.

The cable, which will power homes and businesses, will stretch from the East Garden City substation, in Uniondale, to the Valley Stream substation, in Lynbrook. It must be installed by 2020 to meet federal regulations. Lynbrook officials favored PSEG’s preferred route because it had a minimal impact on village roads. Rockville Centre officials backed an alternate route, which would have enhanced the village’s electric system, but would have impacted more Lynbrook roads.

“Over the course of the last nine, 10 months, it has gotten very little traction,” Atkinson told the board during the meeting of Rockville Centre officials’ request. “RVC has resolved their differences with PSEG.”

Atkinson added that Rockville Centre officials signed an agreement for PSEG to stick to its preferred route, which will begin on Stewart Avenue in Garden City and extend to Whitehall Street in Lynbrook. The board voted unanimously to grant permission to Atkinson to sign off on the route.

The preferred route mostly parallels Hempstead Avenue, while the eastern alternate route would have ran mostly along Peninsula Boulevard. The western alternative follows the preferred route until it turns west on First Street in Garden City.

The agreement came after Trustee Mike Hawxhurst, who has since been appointed deputy mayor, expressed frustration over Rockville Centre officials seeking to change the preferred route.

“Rockville Centre is looking to re-route the project to pay for upgrades to their system that they don’t want to pay for,” Hawxhurst said at a board meeting last July. “So our board here is fighting that, because it would destroy extra streets in our village that don’t need to be ripped up, but Rockville Centre is looking to cheap out on work they need to do on their own.”

Phil Andreas, Rockville Centre Electric Department superintendent, recommended using the eastern alternative route during a public meeting hosted by the state Department of Public Service last May in Mineola, because it would have created the possibility of installing a new interconnection substation to help Rockville Centre combat electrical issues.

Andreas told the Herald on Monday, however, “The route that they’ve chosen won’t impact our additional request, because they’ve come forward and we’ve reached an agreement with them.”

PSEG is offering the village additional electric capacity from its existing power lines, Andreas said, which will allow Rockville Centre to increase transmission import from 45 megawatts to 55 megawatts. (One megawatt lights 750 to 1,000 homes). This solution, he added, is cheaper than what an interconnection substation would have cost.

Andreas’s testimony last year was part of Rockville Centre village officials’ attempts to persuade PSEG to address the village’s recommended enhancements to its electric system. Andreas said at the time that there had been at least 24 major outages in the village since 2013, and called on PSEG to conduct a condition assessment of the system’s equipment and structures.

He noted Monday that there had been only one outage since that testimony. “They’ve done maintenance, they’ve done some upgrades, and they’ve identified what they believe was the root-cause problem of these repeated failures,” Andreas said. “PSEG has assured us that they’ve corrected that problem.”

Lynbrook village officials took issue with the eastern alternative, because the Peninsula Boulevard route would have meant underground work on many roads that the village had paved in recent years, including a large portion of Sherman Street.

PSEG spokesman Jeremy Walsh said that the state Public Service Commission was in charge of finalizing the route. He added that the project will “provide much-needed resilience and redundancy to southwestern Nassau County’s electrical grid,” and noted that the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which develops and enforces grid reliability standards in the U.S. and Canada, required the transmission line to be operational by the end of 2020.

Work should begin in the final quarter of 2019, Walsh said, and take about a year to 18 months to complete.

Ben Strack contributed to this story.