PSEG on Island power cable: “It’s complicated”

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Drill rigs rusting at Crescent Beach last Autumn during botched efforts to run an electric cable between the North Fork and the Island.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Drill rigs rusting at Crescent Beach last Autumn during botched efforts to run an electric cable between the North Fork and the Island.

There’s no start date and there might not even be a plan.

The LIPA cable project that ground to a halt after months of missed deadlines, botched work, cost overruns and cheery reports that all was well, is now in the hands of the new power provider, PSEG.

Monday, a PSEG spokesman said he’s not free to discuss the status of the project.

Jeffery Weir told a Times/Review reporter that PSEG has been evaluating the situation that resulted in the Long Island Power Authority firing its contractor, Bortech, last fall after failure to be able to resolve an equipment breakdown that left the project in limbo.

PSEG took over LIPA on January 1 and received a January 10 letter from Town Supervior Jim Dougherty asking that the project to replace cables damaged during Superstorm Sandy be given a high priority. Previously, town officials had been told plans were in place to return generators to Shelter Island this spring to ensure that, if the remaining cable become inoperable, there would still be electric power.

Mr. Weir said he couldn’t comment further about the plans for the generators being returned to the Island.

“I’m not entirely certain what all progress has been made,” Mr. Weir said. “It’s a complicated situation and they’re working it through,” he said, referring to PSEG officials. “Our main concern is making sure the residents of Shelter Island have reliable and safe power and so whatever it takes to make that happen, we’ll do that.”

While Shelter Islanders have had to worry about sustaining power since the project got under way last spring, residents on both sides of the Harbor have been disturbed by noise and dirt associated with the project that initially was supposed to be completed by Memorial Day last May. Continued problems led to constant delays and just when it finally appeared that completion was in sight at the end of August, a piece of drilling rig broke just 500 feet short of the Greenport side.

By October, LIPA fired Bortech. But word was a new contractor would be hired with work due to begin again in January. LIPA said the delay was, at least in part, linked to the PSEG takeover of operations in January.

Then in December, Mr. Dougherty announced that he had been told by LIPA officials — still in charge until PSEG took over operations January 1 —  that no work would begin for months, but that generators would be returned to Shelter Island this spring.

Mr. Dougherty said then he wanted assurances the project would be completed by April 30.

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