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Petition No. 699

United Illuminating
New Haven, Connecticut
Staff Report
December 21, 2004

On Friday, December 3, 2004, Council member Gerry Heffernan and Siting Analyst David Martin conducted a field review of a petition received from United Illuminating for an interconnection between an existing UI 115 kV 8700 transmission line and a 26.4 kV supply station for the Metro North rail line. Eugene Kallaur and Steve Syrett represented UI at the field review. Frank Pannenborg, a planner with the City of New Haven was also present, as was a representative from the New Haven Police Department.

The proposed site is located north of the New Haven railroad station in an area currently used as parking for the New Haven police department located across the street. UI would connect an existing underground 115 kV line that runs beneath Union Avenue to an above ground switchyard to feed the electrical power supply system for the Metro North commuter rail line. The equipment UI would install includes underground ductbanks, circuit breakers, metering equipment, and associated buswork. The site would also include two transformers that would be installed by Metro North.

Although Metro North does run some diesel trains, most of its trains are electrified. Currently Devon station supplies the electricity for the New Haven end of the Metro North line. Because of the distance from Devon to the New Haven station, Metro North has low voltage levels at its New Haven supply station. This results in nuisance trippings and a less efficient operation. UI’s interconnection would increase the voltage available for the Metro North’s traction power system, which would mean safer and more reliable rail operations.

UI’s equipment would be enclosed by a 14-foot high chain link fence topped with a foot of barbed wire. Privacy slats would be installed in the fence to reduce the visual impact of the electrical equipment. The site would be monitored by security cameras.

The area in which this project would be located is highly urbanized. There are additional parking lots between the proposed project site and the railroad station. Extensive railyards are to the east, and the New Haven police department is directly across Union Avenue to the west. The railroad station area is cut off from the downtown area of New Haven by the Route 34 overpass that runs just north of the site.

During the site review, the City of New Haven planner expressed some concerns about ways UI and ConnDOT (which owns the property and has initiated this project on behalf of Metro North) could improve the aesthetics of the property. He suggested planting trees such as arbor vitae along the fence line and painting an old billboard at the north end of the property.

Given the urbanized setting of the project and its potential for improving the reliability and safety of mass transit service between New Haven and New York, the environmental impacts of this project would be minimal.

c: Mark D. Neri, ConnDOT