A New Transition Line Proposal in Fairfield

Fairfield Residents Putting United Illuminating Under Pressure
A New Transition Line Proposal in Fairfield

On April 13th, 2021, Fairfield’s First Selectman met with United Illuminating (UI) about their desire to replace existing poles with ones that are much more substantial. Instead of 60 to 80 feet tall, they will be up to 200 feet tall, over three times the current height. 

In the two-and-a-half years since the first meeting with Fairfield’s selectman, the town never asked for a seat at the table or intervener status to help control our town’s destiny and negotiate with the utility company. This summer, the Siting Council (a semi-judicial body responsible for approving UI’s charge) let residents advocating for themselves, with the help of one of Fairfield’s State Representative Jennifer Leeper, receive intervener status. This is even as the town missed, or simply ignored, the deadline. The Siting Council’s action was based on their goodwill; there was no legal prerogative that made them do so. It is highly likely that they could have said no to this request and Fairfield would continue to have no say in the decision.

The consequences to Fairfield would be stark: 19.25 acres would become a permanent easement, 10 acres would be a temporary easement during construction, 6.5 acres of trees would be removed, and 5.5 acres of trees can never be replanted. In fact, citizen’s whose land would be taken due to the project were never even alerted of its existence.

Fairfield will no longer have that quaint, picturesque look, with poles disrupting downtown Southport and the greater town. There are to-scale visuals created by architects that describe how the wires and poles take away from the pristine nature of Pequot Library. Our institutions, like Dairy Queen and Rawley’s, would be knocked down in the process. UI’s plan would currently have them taking over people’s property with permanent easements, and in some cases, even taking over part of people’s houses. They are cutting down trees, which are not just vital environmentally and as a sound barrier, but also making it so that those on the train have a direct line of sight to local preschools.

There are some clear alternatives. Other towns have buried their electrical lines to solve for these issues. Eversource, another Connecticut electricity company, has estimated that burying power lines costs between $1 million and $14 million, depending on whether it is a rural or urban location. Yet United Illuminating has put a $1 billion dollar price tag on it; for a 7.3 mile project. They have not commented on how they came to that extremely high cost.

Our electrical infrastructure should be stronger and not as susceptible to being destroyed by winter storms. But the answer to it is not to destroy our neighborhood by letting UI proceed without opposition, but rather to share  your opinions and work with the utility company to come up with an economically and environmentally sound solution that fits within our community.

You can email [email protected] to share testimony and thoughts on the proposal and what is beneficial and detrimental to our town. They are legally responsible for reviewing everything on the docket. They will hear your voice. 


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