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PSEG: No power project until the Autumn

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | LIPA contractors running pipes to house electric cables down Shore Road to Crescent Beach last August. The project was terminated in October.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | LIPA contractors running pipes to house electric cables down Shore Road to Crescent Beach last August. The project was terminated in October.

PSEG is considering two options to provide backup to the single existing cable linking the Island to Greenport. A decision is expected to be reached within two weeks, according to Supervisor Jim Dougherty. No matter what path the power company takes, nothing will be done until Autumn 2014.

The first possibility is to resume the effort aborted by LIPA when it fired its contractor, Bortech, in October 2013 after a drill bit rig broke just 500 feet from the Greenport shore. The second alternative is to build a substation on Shelter Island that would be freestanding, meaning no cabling would be required.

PSEG officials outlined the two alternatives in a late afternoon conference call Friday with Mr. Dougherty, Police Chief Jim Read and Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr.

Within two weeks PSEG plans a face-to-face meeting with town officials.

“The project will not involve interfering with our summer high season,” Mr. Dougherty said. That’s because it’s too late to start work now and completed before the season starts, so it would be done in the fall of 2014, he added. Mobile generators will be here for the summer as backup power sources.

Mr. Dougherty characterized the conference call with PSEG as “very satisfying” and expressed confidence that the company, which took the reins from LIPA on January 1, is poised to finally get the job done.

In LIPA’s hands, the project was originally supposed to be completed before the summer season of 2013. But it ground down with multiple delays that had residents on both sides of Greenport Harbor complaining about noise and dirt last summer. The complaints were particularly vocal on the Greenport side where those residents had sustained heavy damage from Superstorm Sandy. Just as they were nearing recovery, the work on cabling began, bringing them further aggravation.

The cable problems surfaced in the wake of Sandy when one of the old cables connecting the Island to the Greenport substation failed. LIPA made the decision to put in two new cables by early in 2013. The Island also has one cable from Sag Harbor, but that doesn’t have the capacity to provide electricity to the entire Island.

LIPA gave Bortech deadlines to either get the project moving or give it up and finally, by October, it was clear the contractor was coming up empty when it came to solutions. In firing Bortech, LIPA then promised work would get under way by January 2014.

“Last year’s abortive attempt during our peak tourist season created great difficulties that we do not wish to repeat,” Mr. Dougherty wrote PSEG in January.

In December, just before PSEG took over, the supervisor was told no work would be started for months, but that generators would be returned to Shelter Island this spring. They had been moved to the Island during the attempt at providing new cabling, but were taken out last fall.