PSEG mulling underwater cable plan — again

Island View Road was repaired this week. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Greenport residents were left with a mess after work on a Long Island Power Authority cable to Shelter Island came to a halt in August 2013. The site was not restored with safe access to the beach until May. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Controversy is afloat once more as electric utility PSEG-LI begins weighing the idea of installing an underwater pipeline aimed at updating power to Shelter Island. Again.

Utility officials visiting the intersection of Island View Lane and Bay Shore Road last Wednesday — where a $10 million project aimed at boosting Shelter Island’s power supply failed last August — were met with hostility from Greenport residents while visiting the once-battered project site. 

“I can’t believe they would even consider coming back here,” said Celia Swing, who lives with her husband directly next to the drilling site. “I told them ‘I have nothing to say to you but you’re not welcome back here.’”

A update to the utility infrastructure connecting Long Island became needed following Hurricane Sandy, which damaged one of two underwater cables sending power to the island.

While the utility says it is committed to building a substation on Shelter Island to provide the needed power, proposals for two different sites for an on-island substation came up flat on Shelter Island due to safety and cost concerns, sending power officials back to the drawing board. PSEG suggested one site for the substation on the island, though residents balked at the location. And the site Shelter Island residents suggested, PSEG said was too costly.

PSEG spokesman Jeffrey Weir said the utility “is being incredibly prudent and understands that there may be limitations to what is possible [on Shelter Island], so we are looking at investigating the possibility of going back to the underwater cable.”

The prior project upgrade required drilling a nearly mile-long hole from Greenport to Crescent Beach on Shelter Island about 90 feet below the bay’s bottom. The hole was to be fitted with pipe to protect three cables that would have been threaded through.

But that project was canned after a piece of the drill rig broke off in the underwater hole, becoming stuck in the pipeline about 500 feet from Greenport’s shore.

“I am outraged to think that anyone who knows how horrible it was for us in Greenport, would even consider trying again,” said Jessica Kerr, another impacted area resident.

“This time the neighbors will not agree to allowing PSEG to dig up the road,” she said. “I think we would have to take some legal action.”

With Julie Lane

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CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Construction and heavy drilling machinery filled Island View Lane last August.