10/03/13 10:42am

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Bortech workers in August running pipes to Crescent Beach for a power pipeline just before work was stopped. Word came yesterday that the contractor had been fired by LIPA and National Grid on the $9 million project.

Long Island Power Authority has washed its hands of Bortech.

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross released a statement yesterday evening that its contract with Bortech, the company digging a pipeline under the bay from Crescent Beach to Southold, has been voided. No new work is expected until sometime in 2014 as the power company and its corporate partner, National Grid, look for a new contractor.

“National Grid, our service provider and project manager on this project, notified our drilling contractor Bortech that they have been terminated,” the statement form Mr. Gross said.  “While work on the project will stop immediately, we are currently negotiating an amount of time for them to properly demobilize from the work site (both Shelter Island and Southold). Any options going forward to complete this project must make complete technical and economic sense. Once National Grid presents these options to LIPA we will review them and move forward with a course of action. We would not expect any physical work on the project to start until after the new year.”

A call to Bortech for further information was not returned.

Started in April to provide a much-needed backup source of electricity for the Island, the $9 million project was originally scheduled to be completed by Memorial Day.

09/24/13 10:00am

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Bortech workers under contract by LIPA running pipe into a tunnel dug below the harbor between Crescent Beach and Southold in August. Major work has been put on hold for a month because of project malfunctions.

With the clock ticking toward Monday, September 30 on the deadline the Long Island Power Authority gave its contractor to fix the hitches that shut down the pipeline project, the question is what action the utility will take if the effort fails.

So far, no one’s talking.

“We certainly share the frustration with those residents that are affected by the project and while we understand the project does have its challenges, at some point we have to move forward and I think that’s what the deadline represents,” said LIPA spokesman Mark Gross.

He referred questions about a performance contract the power authority has with its contractor, Bortech, to National Grid, the utilities’ corporate partner.

But National Grid spokeswoman Wendy Ladd said no details can be released on the terms of the performance contract or exactly what might trigger action under that contract. All she would say is the contract is designed to protect the investment in what was initially a $9 million project to provide electrical backup to Shelter Island via a transformer in Southold.

Bortech, and it’s president, Robert Titanic, have not returned several phone calls asking for comment.

Constantine Poindexter of Surety One, a Raleigh, North Carolina based-company that issues performance bonds world wide, said typically these bonds are a third-party guarantee that construction will be completed within an agreed-upon time frame, with a stipulated budget and that the work will meet project specifications.

Clearly, Bortech’s work on the project hasn’t been completed on time and deadlines have been moved forward on a constant basis.

Without specifics relating to the bond National Grid has with Bortech, it’s impossible to know just how late the project is now since starting in April, or what costs may have incurred above the original $9 million price tag.

A source familiar with performance bonds pointed out that if National Grid is forced to trigger the performance bond on the LIPA project, it would be that much more difficult and expensive to get a performance bond on subsequent projects.

While Shelter Island Public Works Commissioner Jay Card Jr. has been in regular communication with LIPA and the utility has made reports to Supervisor Jim Dougherty about the progress — or lack of it — on the project, there’s been a tendency by town officials not to upset what has been a generally good working relationship with LIPA over the years. Plus, the project will provide much needed back up power to the Island.

But cross the harbor and it’s a different story. Residents on the Southold side have voiced frustration and anger at noise and dirt they say ruined their summer.

For now, it’s wait and see what Monday brings.

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