Southold Town is prepared to sue PSEG Long Island should the company revisit a failed and controversial underwater cable project intended to boost Shelter Island’s power supply.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell said the town is considering all its options, including legal action, to halt any attempts made by the company to resurrect the stalled multi-million dollar project, which residents nearest to the drilling site on the mainland strongly protested.
“We are not going through this again,” Mr. Russell said. “[PSEG] had their opportunity to get this project right… they didn’t.”
Meanwhile, on Shelter Island, Supervisor Jim Dougherty earlier this week said he is in talks with PSEG to continue the project, which he said is needed for “enhancing future power capacity for Shelter Island.”
Mr. Dougherty said at the Town Board’s work session Tuesday that in discussions he’s had with PSEG, the power company is moving away from a concept of building a substation on the Island and returning to the idea of a cable under the bay.
Following an outpouring of backlash from residents, PSEG ditched a proposal to spend $10 million last year to build a substation in a residential neighborhood at the Old Highway Barn site on Route 114 on Shelter Island.
The substation proposal came on the heels of a disastrous attempt by LIPA to drill a cable tunnel under the bay from the North Fork for backup power when the contractor failed to complete the job. A drill had broke about 500 feet from Greenport’s shore.
Mr. Dougherty said a PSEG official had told him “the top thing on their list was to start having conversations, or continuing conversations, with Southold and Greenport folks on acceptance that doesn’t benefit them but benefits the region.”
Mr. Russell said he has not spoken to Mr. Dougherty about the matter, but plans to do so in the immediate future.
For the residents who have suffered through the months of construction outside their windows, Mr. Russell’s strong stance against the project is a comfort.
“I am so glad that he supports us,” said Greenport resident Jessica Kerr, who lives next to the drilling site. “That project was a total disaster, inconvenience and mess to all of us who live there. I am thrilled.”