Will Chilmark impale a pole project?

Middle Road in Chilmark along the Keith Farm. Some residents fear Eversource may ruin the view of the farm with new utility poles. — Rich Saltzberg

Chilmark residents, particularly along Middle Road, have expressed concern and displeasure with a proposed Eversource project that would bring larger utility poles to Middle Road, and also add more poles. The project has been touted as an effort to bolster resiliency.

Tuesday night at a meeting of the Chilmark select board, energy committee chair Rob Hannemann described the project as a threat to one of Chilmark’s scenic resources. “Fundamentally, we need the leadership of the select board and the town, unless we’re very comfortable with one of our key scenic resources being severely damaged,” Hannemann said. “From the energy committee perspective, we are supportive, of course, of increasing the strength of the grid and the resilience. That doesn’t mean, though, that we can’t protect our scenic views and the scenic roadways.”

Hannemann pointed to poles Eversource erected on Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road some years back. 

“Eversource has not learned its lesson from that, even though they had told me that they’ve learned their lesson. The poles there are tremendously prominent, let’s say, and in fact on our scenic roadways — South Road, Middle Road, North Road — we cannot have that looking the way Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road looks. The background here is that the MVC is willing to support us on this whole effort to mitigate the damage to our scenic roadway here.”

Hannemann said if the town wants it, he believed the MVC could hold a DRI hearing on the poles, “even though they may not have the power to stop what Eversource is proposing.”

“I would love to sit down and understand what we can do to take a leadership role, quite frankly,” select board chair Bill Rossi said.

Town administrator Tim Carroll said an information session Eversource held in the Chilmark library on the subject was attended by roughly 18 people, all of whom were critical of the project, and “very critical” of changing the viewshed along Keith Farm on Middle Road.

Carroll said Eversource promised to return with a presentation on what it would cost to bury the lines, or partially bury them, and to provide some examples of projects where they’ve put lines underground. 

Carroll said Eversource has yet to get permission from the select board to site additional utility poles.

As a longtime engineer, Hannemann said he wants to see data, as opposed to just assurances that the project will boost resilience.

“They can’t just wave their hands,” he said. “They have to explain what the benefit is going to be.”


  1. The Woke community on the island wants us to go all electric. How do you think we’re gonna get this electricity? The electricity running through the polls needs to be so many feet apart in order to be safe and function properly and we need more and more electricity. A Home 80 years ago only needed 60 amps then it was 100 amps recently the standard was 200 amps now they need 400 amps per house to run car, heat, lights, cooking. Middle Road is just a start. We are going to need bigger poles all over the island.

    • Putting electric wires on poles is a typical non-Woke approach to infastucture improvement.
      Underground utilities have been proven to have a lower life cycle cost.
      Hurricanes are not really a concern.

  2. Terms such as “woke”
    are used by right wing news station to isolate those with more liberal views for purposes of alienation and condemnation. Anyone using these terms is just one step away from bigotry and hate. I have both liberal and conservative views so I resent when anyone tries to classify me as anything. It’s dangerous and only perpetuates separation.

  3. There are different options to poles. One is to bury the lines in larger than necessary PVC pipe along the roadway. This is more expensive but one only needs to see that in some developments all the electric is done that way. Now find three independent contractors (not just Eversource) to give a number and stick by it

  4. Why would you you use larger than necessary conduit, do you think that the National Electric Code is inadequate?

    Underground electric is far more expensive to install and about half the life cycle cost.

    Eversource is not a contractor.
    They hire contractors for the construction of power lines.
    Contractors do a significant amount of Eversource’s routine maintenance.
    They gear up for outages, not routine construction.
    The company responsible for maintenance should also be responsible for the design and construction supervision.

    • Companies are no different than our local and national governments. They all do what is the least expensive for the greatest impact at the time. Very few think about the cost effectiveness in the long term. In fact, installing underground utilities may be a slight advantage in long-term cost. But does not help the bottom line right now. Eversource gets a pass on kicking the can down the road they learned from the best, our government which we elect embrace the same ideal.

  5. How many realize that this long delayed project dates back to an agreement between the State and Eversource?

    Eversource wanted a rate increase and the state said ” not so fast ” until system hardening was done.

    Part of the project is complete with new larger and taller poles to get above the falling trees are in place, but not strung with new wires.

    We have had two major storms and outages since this agreement was made with extended outages due to trees downing old wires.

    It is time for new high voltage service wires up island to meet the current and future needs.

    Work has already been done for upgrades on Menemsha Crossroad.

    Work is currently underway putting wires underground on Panhandle Road and up Middle road to a pole. This underground work required the road closure. It has been slow and expensive-requiring repaving the road when complete at the electric users expense.
    If underground is mandated for a portion of the project, let the effected property owners pay the costs, as was the case on Main St in Vineyard Haven.

    I am sure people objected to the visual impact of the original poles being installed and complained then. Likely, people have become accustomed to that and were happy to have electricity. We will become accustomed to the added poles and be satisfied in the decreased number of electrical and CATV interruptions.

    It is time to complete this project.

Comments are closed.