Q: I don’t live in the areas of Fairfield  where the monopoles will be placed. Why is this important to all Town residents?

A: If approved, UI's project will inflict permanent devastating harm on the Town, impacting its aesthetics, environment, historical and community resources, businesses, and the economy. The 8.5 acres of permanent utility easements required in Fairfield and Southport by the project will transfer property rights from private citizens, businesses, community organizations and the Town to a private, foreign owned company. The towering monopoles will be a blight on the landscape, and change the views of Fairfield that we all know and treasure. The aesthetic impact alone has the power to discourage business development and dissuade  people from visiting Fairfield to shop, enjoy entertainment and meals, maintain businesses and to live. This project will involve significant economic impact that will change the face of Fairfield forever.

Q: Why is this project necessary?

A: UI contends that the project is essential to address aging infrastructure and ensure reliable electricity in the area. However, despite UI's own projections indicating no increased electricity demand in the region for the next decade, the plan entails a doubling of capacity. UI openly admits that this expanded capacity will not benefit our community but serves to boost their profits by facilitating power transmission and sales outside CT. This profit-oriented motive is particularly troubling given that the significant easements, towering monopole heights, and detrimental impact on our environment, and historical and cultural resources are a direct result of this unnecessary capacity increase. 

Q: How tall will the monopoles be, in comparison to existing power poles?

A: Within Fairfield and Southport, the new monopoles will range in height from 95 to 135 feet, which is double the height of the existing ones on the north side of the tracks, and more than double the height of the tallest building in downtown Fairfield.

Q: How will the installation of the monopoles change the affected areas Fairfield and Bridgeport?

A: United Illuminating intends to clear 6.5 acres of mature trees, fully exposing our community to the train tracks and electricity power infrastructure. The project will adversely impact hundreds of historic sites in its path.

In addition to removing mature trees, home to songbirds and other wildlife, UI will excavate forty feet into the earth to create foundations for the monopoles. The construction process alone will be damaging to many beautiful areas of Town, including historic Southport, that will be lost to all of us forever.

UI intends to place the monopoles on private property a full 40 feet from where existing infrastructure now stands along the train tracks. Once the monopoles have been placed on private property via easements, the affected property owners will be expected to maintain and pay property taxes on land that they will no longer have control over. This is unconscionable.

Q: Once the monopoles are installed, is that the end of the project?

A: United Illuminating plans to acquire 19.25 acres of easements in Bridgeport and Fairfield that will give UI the right to “at any time and from time to time” construct, excavate and remove any structures in the way of its work. Consequently, these permanent easements empower UI to install even taller poles, service roads, and other developments in the corridor as they see fit without recourse for prevention even after the project concludes. 

Q: Did United Illuminating take our Town’s unique historic character or landscape  into account when planning this project?

A: UI’s  cultural resources report, prepared by Heritage Consultants, had many distortions and omissions. Historical preservation experts Wes Haynes and David Parker testified that UI failed to consider roughly 90% of Southport’s historic district properties alone.

The UI report was also called into question by the National Trust for Historic Preservation which filed to intervene in the application proceeding. The National Trust said it is “extremely concerned about the threatened adverse impact of the Application on a wide variety of historic properties.” The National Trust also said that “the potential for unreasonable destruction of these resources could be avoided and minimized by alternative alignments for this project, which should be adopted.”

The National Trust was so concerned about UI’s plan that it invited Preservation Connecticut to submit a nomination for the annual “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places” list.

Q: Why won’t United Illuminating bury the transmission lines instead of installing massive  and unsightly monopoles?

A: UI claims that burying the power lines would be cost prohibitive so they eliminated it as an option. Cost doesn’t appear to be driving their decision-making, however, but rather, lack of experience.

The UI engineering team that designed and estimated the underground alternative has only one-half mile of undergrounding experience. By contrast, experts engaged by the Town and a community group have hundreds of miles and decades of experience in undergrounding, and it is their view that the lines can be buried for a fraction of UI’s estimate. That, coupled with the significant maintenance cost savings for undergrounding (particularly over its anticipated 40-plus-year lifespan), should make it a far preferable alternative to the permanent devastation that the overhead lines will inflict.

Q: Have our state and regional government leaders taken a stand on the proposed utility project?

A: UI claims that it “worked closely with federal, state and municipal organizations to identify project proposals that…(minimize) impacts to the community. But its plan has faced a torrent of opposition from government leaders at all levels, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, state Sen. Tony Hwang, and state Representatives Jennifer Leeper, Cristin McCarthy Vahey and Sarah Keitt.  First Selectman Bill Gerber vehemently opposed UI’s plan during his campaign and has made it a top priority of his administration.

Q: I don’t want these unsightly monopoles in my Town. What can I do?

A: Your opinion as a Town resident, business owner, and citizen counts! Here’s how you can join the fight and let the Connecticut Siting Council and United Illuminating know that you demand that they develop alternative solutions, including burying the power lines along public roads: