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Officials discuss future of Fairfield's monopole project; lawmakers say the fight is not over

Fairfield lawmakers want to ensure accountability and transparency from utility companies.

Nicole Alarcon Soares and Tom Krosnowski

Feb 1, 2024, 5:34 PM

Updated 165 days ago

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A bipartisan group of Fairfield-based lawmakers met on Thursday ahead of the new legislative session to discuss the future of Fairfield’s monopole project.
Fairfield lawmakers want to ensure accountability and transparency from utility companies.
"We've been working really hard to put pressure on UI in every avenue possible," said Rep. Jennifer Leeper.
Town leaders and residents have expressed their preference to have the monopoles be installed underground, but neither United Illuminating nor the siting council support that plan.
"Utilities shouldn't be able to come into a community, create a new right-of-way through their main street, and take easements that mean there will be almost no future development for 19.25 acres through Bridgeport and Fairfield," said Rep. Jennifer Leeper
Sen. Hwang said the project caught businesses, private property owners, and environmentalists “off guard."
Residents are concerned with the poles’ height, which could be up to 145 feet, as well as the impacts on homes and businesses.
"I'm not in favor of undergrounding due to elevated costs. You have congested areas along Route 1 that couldn't accommodate an underground line," Robert Silvestri from the siting council said in response.
United Illuminating has said this plan costs less, minimizes environmental impacts, and can be done faster.
In a non-binding straw poll, the Siting Council approved the project with conditions. One of seven denied the project, while two didn't vote.
"I cannot, in good conscience, approve the proposed project or any other alternatives absent a more robust cost analysis," said Quat Nguyen from the siting council.
Lawmakers told residents the fight is not over.
The siting council must make its decision by March 17. 


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