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Contractor ‘nowhere near finishing’ as LIPA deadline looms

BEV WALZ PHOTO | Bortech workers under contract by LIPA running pipe n August. Major work has been put on hold for more than a month because of project malfunctions, and LIPA’S patience now seems to be at an end.

With a deadline imposed for tomorrow, the Long Island Power Authority’s contract with Bortech to complete the long-delayed power pipeline project from Greenport to Shelter Island seems to be history.

Nick Lizanich, vice president of transmission and distribution for LIPA, said Monday afternoon that Bortech had failed to hit “major milestones” set on the company a month ago.

“The reality is [Bortech] is nowhere near finishing those milestones,” Mr. Lizanich said.

The primary goal Bortech missed is extracting a broken drill head in the tunnel between Crescent Beach and Greenport that would have carried power lines. The drill head malfunctioned in late August and stopped the project in its tracks. Bortech has been trying ever since to get the project back on track.

Mr. Lizanich said Bortech continues to propose alternatives, but it was clear that patience has run out at LIPA and its corporate partner, National Grid.

Alternatives now include terminating Bortech’s contract “and get someone else in to complete the conduit extension,” Mr. Lizanich said.

Another option is to give Bortech an extension. “But from my perspective, that’s what I gave then 30 days ago,” Mr. Lizanich said.

LIPA and National Grid are scheduled to put their heads together tomorrow to discuss the situation. There would be a final decision later in the week, “or sooner,” Mr. Lizanich said

LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said two weeks ago,  ”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.”

Once the Sept. 30 deadline passes, LIPA officials “will explore all the options available to [them], and move forward,” Mr. Gross said previously.

If a new contractor is brought on board, decisions will have to be made to complete the tunnel already dug, or “start fresh,” Mr. Lizanich said.

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

Bortech did not comment on the matter.