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Drill tests underway to determine electric cable project’s feasibility

02/17/2016 5:00 PM |

JULIE LANE PHOTO Drilling for oil? Hardly. This barge, belonging to North Star Marine out of Cape May, New Jersey, has been conducting boring tests in the water and onshore to determine if cabling between Greenport and Shelter Island Heights might be the solution to providing electrical service here.

No, that large barge running between Greenport and Shelter Island Heights isn’t drilling for oil.

It’s boring holes underwater and along the shores on both sides to determine if it’s possible to run underwater electric cables between the Village and the Heights.

The Heights Property Owners Corporation hasn’t approved the project, General Manager Stella Lagudis said. Allowing the boring tests to proceed is “no guarantee” that the HPOC will enter into a contract with PSEG for the  project, Ms. Lagudis said.

“I believe in taking one step at a time,” she said.

If the results of the boring tests demonstrate the plan could work, then the HPOC would discuss just where the cables would run and whether it’s a reasonable option.

On the Greenport side — again, if the boring tests show the project could work — cables would run to the southern end of Fifth Street.

Neither side has yet entered into any agreement with PSEG, pending the outcome of the tests. If the project were to move forward, it would happen outside of the summer season, according to PSEG Director of Communications Jeffrey Weir.

PSEG’s aim is to minimize the impact of the work for residents on both sides, he said.

Officials on both sides of the bay have been cooperative and reasonable in their approaches to a possible project, Mr. Weir said.

The utility is looking for the most viable option to provide safe, effective and reliable power to Shelter Island. Currently the Island depends primarily on one aged cable from the North Fork, and a cable from the South Fork that provides some power, but isn’t capable of covering the entire Island.

PSEG has been seeking a resolution since it took over service from the Long Island Power Authority that tried in 2013 to place new underwater cables between the Greenport and Crescent Beach.

Its subcontractor, Bortech, was unable to complete the project successfully, when a drill bit snapped and there was a spill of some nontoxic material on the Greenport side.

Neighbors there, who had been troubled by noise, dust and disruptions through the summer, weren’t going to stand for a second try and Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said he would sue if necessary to stop a second attempt.

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Photo: A North Star Marine barge out of Cape May, New Jersey, has been conducting boring tests in the waters between Shelter Island and Greenport, as well as onshore. (Credit: Julie Lane)

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