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PSEG, Greenport talk new underwater electric cable to Shelter Island

08/12/2015 9:00 AM |

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Greenport Village Mayor Hubbard said PSEG is exploring the idea of digging a tunnel from the southern end of Fifth Street in the village under the harbor to a site in Shelter Island Heights.

The Greenport Village Board is expected to discuss the new proposal at a public meeting next week, Mr. Hubbard said.

PSEG Director of Communications Jeffrey Weir confirmed talks between utility company representatives and Mr. Hubbard. But he cautioned it was “premature to call any site [in Greenport] viable.”

Informed of the new option, Heights Property Owners Corporation General Manager Stella Lagudis took a wait-and-see stance. “I’m not going to get too bent out of shape” since there’s no clear proposal on the table, Ms. Lagudis said.

She planned to speak with Mr. Hubbard to get a sense of what’s happening at his end, she said, and would await  word from PSEG before commenting further.

While there are condominiums in the area of Fifth Street, the mayor said if an agreement is reached, work would be done between October 2015 and April 2016, noting that most condo residents use their property in the summer.

At the same time, while Greenport is negotiating terms of an agreement, the mayor wants to ensure there wouldn’t be a disruption for neighbors who remain in the condos.

If the cables were run in that area, they would connect to a Greenport substation — the same substation where the connection was planned when another tunneling project was underway from Crescent Beach to Greenport in 2013. LIPA pulled the plug on its contractor, Bortech, for that $9 million project in October after months of blown deadlines and incompetence.

PSEG, who took over from LIPA, then attempted to convince the Shelter Island Town Board that building an electrical  substation here was in the best interests of the Island for reliable back up power. PSEG was eventually stymied by with legislation passed unanimously by the board banning the construction of substations anywhere on the Island.

While PSEG and Greenport talk, other options remain on the table — including the original Crescent Beach cable route that ended badly for Bortech and LIPA.

Some residents on the Greenport side had their lives disrupted by the failed Bortech project, with a number of them forced to move to hotels at LIPA’s expense. Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell has made it clear he would fight any new tunnel project for electric cables. Mr. Russell has said his argument isn’t with PSEG, but with Shelter Island, which he said has a responsibility to find a way to ensure power for its residents.

There were originally three cables running between Shelter Island and Greenport. Two have been destroyed, leaving a single cable. Another cable comes from the South Fork, but isn’t sufficient to provide service to the entire Island.

PSEG will ultimately pursue the “best, safest and most resilient plan” to provide service to Shelter Island, Mr. Weir said.

Generators are on the Island that could be pressed into service should an emergency develop that damages the single cable from Greenport.

Photo caption: PSEG construction on Shelter Island this year. (Credit: Shelter Island Reporter, file)

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