Eversource begins work on controversial Greenwich substation
GREENWICH — Work has begun on a controversial new Eversource Energy substation in downtown Greenwich.
Site prep on the underground line portion of the project is underway, Eversource said Monday morning. The underground line will eventually connect the new substation on Railroad Avenue to the existing one in Cos Cob.
The work is the initial step of a construction project to install a new 115-kilovolt electric transmission line underground through 2 miles of local streets in Greenwich’s south side from the downtown to Cos Cob, according to Eversource.
There has been significant pushback from the town against the project, with residents arguing that it is not needed and uses technology that is not as advanced as other possible solutions for generating power. Town government officials also objected, citing aesthetic and environmental impact concerns, especially when it comes to the work that will be done in Bruce Park.
The town of Greenwich has filed a legal appeal against the Connecticut Siting Council for its decision to allow the substation to proceed. And while that appeal is still active, the town has been engaged in settlement talks with Eversource since last year.
“We have been working collaboratively with town officials for months and have made substantial progress in addressing the town’s concerns and are close to reaching a final agreement,” Eversource spokesman Frank Poirot said on Monday. “We have briefed the other parties, the state Siting Council and Consumer Council. and are confident that we will deliver a solution that would be acceptable to them and reliably serve the town’s energy needs.”
Town First Selectman Peter Tesei and town Director of Planning and Zoning Katie DeLuca could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning. But last August, Tesei expressed hope that a settlement could be reached, saying at the time that he felt progress was being made.
“I like what I’m seeing and what we’re receiving in terms of feedback to our requests,” Tesei said last year.
The first part of the work will be in Bruce Park and at the site of the soon-to-be-new substation at 290 Railroad Ave., the former site of a Pet Pantry. Poirot said that building will be demolished to make way for the new substation to be built. The underground work and the substation construction is expected to take place concurrently, he said.
Despite the lack of a settlement between the town and Eversource, the company said work can begin on the initial steps under the Siting Council’s approval of the project.
“We are legally allowed to move forward on a portion of the project while we continue to collaborate with the town on the settlement agreement,” Poirot said.
Eversource has said that the new substation is a necessary part of its ongoing effort “to further strengthen the electric distribution system in Greenwich.” Throughout the process, Eversource has said that its electric infrastructure in Greenwich is no longer enough to handle demand from customers.
“Breaking ground on this project is a significant step toward reinforcing the electric system in Greenwich to ensure our customers have reliable power during heat waves, severe cold snaps and other times of high energy use,” Eversource’s Vice President of Project Management Steve Sullivan said in a statement Monday. “More than 28,000 Greenwich customers rely on us to have energy for every moment of their lives and this upgrade project will allow us to meet their energy needs while being sensitive to neighborhood aesthetics.”
The work is expected to be complete by early 2020, Poirot said. The work will not interrupt electric service to local residential or business customers, and Eversource pledged to “work closely” with community leaders and property owners “where work is being done to mitigate any potential impacts.”
“We are committed to being a good neighbor and doing our work with respect for our residents and their properties,” Poirot said.
Neighbors were notified in advance of the work, he said. Anyone with questions could call 1-800-793-2202.