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PSEG: Cable or substation decision still up in the air

COURTESY PHOTO | PSEG trucks on the job.
COURTESY PHOTO | PSEG trucks on the job.

PSEG officials have reached no decision about whether to push forward with a substation on Shelter Island or cables linking the Island to the North Fork.

But they will make the call even in the face of community opposition, believing  they have legal standing to act.

The decision will be informed by which project provides the most reliable service to the Island and the least risk, according to PSEG Director of Communications Jeffrey Weir.

“I’m fine with that,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty said, declining further comment until he has received more information from PSEG. He expects to hear from them within the next couple of weeks, he said

Many Shelter Island residents who visited a Jamesport substation last July were adamantly against siting a similar facility in a residential neighborhood adjacent to the Historical Society on South Ferry Road.

There’s been no word until now about power options for the Island.

Other sites for a substation are still on the table, Mr. Weir said, and PSEG expects to be talking more about other options within the next few weeks.

Even if the utility company determines that the only viable substation site is the one originally proposed, that won’t mean it will abandon the possibility of a cable under the bay as the best solution to power needs, Mr. Weir said. And it isn’t a matter of which option is cheaper. “Cost is not a determining factor,” he added.

Southold Town residents, who took the brunt of the punishment in noise, dirt and disruption to their lives when the cable project was attempted in 2013, have been vocal enough that Supervisor Scott Russell threatened to take PSEG to court if it made a second attempt at that project.

The cable has been there for many years, Mr. Weir said. “So the precedent may be on the side of the utility,” he added.

No way, Mr. Russell responded. PSEG would need to obtain easements from Southold Town to use public road ends during the construction process, something the supervisor said is not going to happen. He told PSEG officials he wouldn’t allow the utility to set up a construction site on the mainland.

“Southold simply isn’t going to grant those easements,” Mr. Russell said.

As for the route of the cabling, the original attempt from Crescent Beach to Greenport remains the most viable since it’s the shortest distance between the two towns. What’s more, PSEG already knows the makeup of the soil and rocks on that route, according to Vincent Frigeria, a district manager at the power company.

Meanwhile, he said he’s confident the two lines that currently provide power to the Island will hold up.

Most of the Island’s power comes through an aged cable on the north side delivering 11 megawatts, while a cable from the south delivers three megawatts, Mr. Weir said. The company has been committed to providing mobile generators to the Island if there’s a breakdown in power flow, but that’s not expected to happen, he said.