Monday deadline looming for LIPA contractor

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

With the clock ticking toward Monday, September 30, the deadline the Long Island Power Authority gave its contractor to fix the hitches that shut down a pipeline project from Greenport to Shelter Island, 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,” LIPA spokesman Mark Gross said last week.

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 that 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 its president, Robert Titanic, have not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Constantine Poindexter of Surety One, a Raleigh, N.C. company that issues performance bonds worldwide, 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.

Deadlines on the pipeline project, aimed at providing backup power to Shelter Island, have been moved forward on several occasions. Work stopped about a month ago when a piece of a drilling rig broke just 500 feet from the Greenport side and was stuck in the pipeline, 90 feet below the bay’s bottom.

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.

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