Battle brewing between Southtowns family and NYSEG over old transformer

HOLLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) – Kim and Richard Knox just had their new home built in the Village of Holland, and noticed an old pole mounted electrical transformer in their yard that was no longer being used.

The Knox’s didn’t asking the power company to remove the transformer would be a big deal, but it has turned out to be a very big deal, big enough to Call 4 Action.

Electrical transformers like the units in the Knox’s yard are known to contain PCB’s, a suspected carcinogen, but the worn can-shaped devices on the Knox’s property have no apparent purpose.

The wires attached to the transformer are cut, lead to nowhere, and Kim suspects the transformers have not been used for a long time.

“I am going to guess at least 10 years. No one has lived in this property for at least 10 years before we bought it.”

In fact, Kim and Richard decided to have their electrical service line buried in their front yard, rather than connected to a utility pole, “We think the transformer is old and it is toxic, and I am afraid it is leaking, and I would like the electric company to come and get it because I believe it belongs to them. They want to charge me $2,500 to take it down.”

The Knox’s have two young sons and a dog, so removal of the potentially toxic transformer is imperative.

After News 4 contacted NYSEG, Kim said a utility crew came to her house and stated emphatically, the transformer belongs to NYSEG, and even though it is not being used, they have no plans to remove it.

A spokesperson for NYSEG emailed News 4 a brief statement which said:

“NYSEG has communicated to the customer that removal of the pole is possible, though we are required to follow set procedures when doing so. If the customer chooses to have the pole remain, NYSEG will maintain and monitor the safety of the infrastructure, as is routine. Safety is our core value.”

The spokesperson said the company is limited in what they can say due to customer confidentiality, and references to “the pole” are assumed to mean the pole and the transformer.

As Knox put it, it is not about about the pole, “The pole? The pole we can leave, the pole we can take down, it does not really matter to us. The pole is not the issue, it is the transformer.”

For issues related to public utilities, such as NYSEG, the State Department of Public Service can be especially helpful for consumers, and in a stalemate like this, the DPS can serve as a referee.

A spokesman for the DPS told News 4, they are looking into the Knox’s transformer issue, and could issue an informal non-binding advisory within the next few days.

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