Residents of New York State and Connecticut have been spectators at an ongoing battle over a 330-MW cable stretching 36 km under Long Island Sound from eastern Long Island, N.Y., to New Haven Harbor in Connecticut. As reported in these pages in May [”Cable Controversy Pits Power Haves Against Have-Nots,” /WEBONLY/resource/may03/ncab.html], the cable, in place for a year, could not be energized because of complaints about its environmental and social impacts. ncab01.jpg
Just about the first thing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE, Washington, D.C.) did during the blackout that began the afternoon of 14 August was issue an emergency order telling Cross-Sound Cable Co. (Westborough, Mass.) to turn the cable on and keep it running through 1 September. On 28 August, the DOE ruled that the cable will remain in operation indefinitely. Its performance during the two weeks following the blackout convinced officials that its benefits warranted continued operation regardless of ”whether particular outages have been identified as being threatened or imminent.” On 4 September, Long Island Power Authority Chairman and CEO Richard Kessel [above] defended that decision before a House committee, showing members cable cross-sections.
The cable had survived several challenges to its construction before finally getting the go-ahead in May 2002. But the game was far from over. Bedrock near New Haven Harbor prevented parts of the high-voltage, direct current cable from being buried below the seabed as required. That was all opponents of the cable needed. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal asserted his state’s right to prevent the cable from being turned on because of the exposed portions, and the state denied requests for permits to finish burying the line. That was where things stood until the Northeast-Midwest system went dark.