National Grid Substation Proposal on Van Dyke Road - Update
In 2014, National Grid proposed construction of an electrical substation on its property at 109 Van Dyke Road near the intersection with the Delmar Bypass Extension. The substation would take electricity from the existing 115-kilovolt powerlines and lower it to 13.2-kilovolts for distribution through the area.
Because the town zoning for that area does not permit a substation, National Grid has applied for a variance from the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA). The ZBA decides on variances to the town’s zoning law based on well-defined standards. By state law, the standards for public utilities like National Grid are different from those for other projects because they are presumed to be operating in the public interest. For this substation, National Grid must demonstrate to the ZBA that:
the variance is needed for the utility to provide safe and adequate service to the public; and
there are no other feasible sites for the substation.
The ZBA opened a public hearing on the proposed substation on November 5, 2014 and continued it at their March 4, 2015 meeting. Based on public input and the complexity of the issue, the ZBA voted at the March 4, 2015 meeting to keep the public hearing open and to hire a consultant to:
provide a technical analysis of the need for the substation;
review National Grid’s assessment of potential alternative locations; and
review environmental studies provided by National Grid of the Van Dyke Road location.
This January, the consultant (Power Engineers) completed their initial assessment of the proposal.
Now that the consultant’s initial assessment is completed, the ZBA is continuing their review of the proposed project. The review process will continue the public hearing, which is important because it allows the ZBA to receive insights from residents in addition to information from National Grid and the ZBA consultant (Power Engineers). As noted above, the ZBA must consider the project in the context of (a) the need by the utility to provide safe and adequate service, and (b) feasible alternative sites for the substation.