Reporter Editorial: Living in hope

REPORTER FILE PHOTO |  Drill rig rusting on Sunset Beach last autumn during botched efforts to run electrical cables between Shelter Island and Greenport.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO |
Drill rig rusting on Sunset Beach last autumn during botched efforts to run electrical cables between Shelter Island and Greenport.

In the depths of winter we can depend on a natural rhythm to the world. Spring changes to summer and then gives way to fall, so winter arrives and, yes, we can depend on there still being no electric cable ensuring a backup power source, still a power corporation clueless about a $9 million — and counting — project.

PSEG, the New Jersey-based power company that took over from LIPA January 1, is acting very much like its predecessor when it comes to transparency and efficiency in relation to the cable project.

There was big talk when PSEG took over that they would quickly start reconstructing the pipeline running under the harbor from Crescent Beach to the North Fork that would house an electric cable replacing a dead power source. The project, you’ll remember, had to begin again because the hapless contractor LIPA had engaged, Bortech, botched things so badly they had to be sent packing in October.

This was after grand promises were made by LIPA and duly broadcast from Town Hall that the project would be completed by Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and then for sure and certain, Labor Day. By Labor Day Bortech’s equipment was rusting on Crescent Beach and the work crews had vanished. Finally, mercifully, Bortech and its CEO, Robert Titanic — you can’t make this up — were gone.

Cue PSEG, who came in and said they would begin work soon after the clock ticked to 2014. Questions were asked: Would construction crews really be working in January? No sweat, PSEG told town officials, we’ll provide shelter for the workers and anyway, these guys work in all weather.

Oops, check that. PSEG told Supervisor Jim Dougherty that no work would begin for several months. Mr. Dougherty said he wanted the project done by April 30.

This week we asked PSEG for a progress report. We were told, “it’s complicated,” one of the newer “it’s in the mail” bail outs when you don’t have a clue. There then followed boilerplate forged in the power company’s public relations department about the corporation working to do its very best for Shelter Island, or something.

Making matters worse, a PSEG spokesman said he couldn’t talk to us until he spoke to Mr. Dougherty, who was on vacation. That’s an especially hard one to figure out. Aren’t all of us ratepayers? Aren’t all of us entitled to answers about the electricity we’re paying for, especially projects that will ensure we have power in case of emergencies?

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