Sen. Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele said the new steel poles as at odds with the rural character of the area. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Legislation mandating formal community notice procedures on LIPA and PSEG-LI for utility transmission projects has been signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, State Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced yesterday.

The two lawmakers sponsored the legislation in response to controversies surrounding the construction of electric transmission lines in Eastport and East Hampton. Both projects ended up in litigation.

The utilities were also criticized for their failure to provide adequate notice in a recent independent audit, the lawmakers said in a press release yesterday.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, prohibits LIPA and PSEG-LI from constructing a transmission facility until public notice has been provided by first class mail to: (1) every county, town, village, or city in which the project is to be located; (2) every utility customer within 500 feet of the proposed transmission project; and (3) the members of the state legislature representing the areas affected by the project.

The notice must be provided before a determination of environmental significance is made under the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

“An above-ground electric transmission project has major impacts on the environment and quality of life in our neighborhoods and communities,” Thiele said. “Affected residents and their public officials have a right to be notified about such projects and to participate in a meaningful way in the decision-making process,” he said.

LaValle said projects often ”end up in needless litigation and community upheaval” and the new law will ”ensure enhanced transparency.”

The public notice must include the following information:

  • the location of the project
  • a description of the project
  • a summary of any studies, including environmental assessments or impact statements, which have been made for the project
  • a statement of need for the project
  • a description of alternative project sites
  • an analysis of the merits and detriments of each alternative site
  • the rationale for why the primary site is the best location

The notice requirements of the new law shall not apply to any project that is simply an in-kind replacement or to an underground transmission project.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.