PSEG Long Island proposes new substation for Shelter Island

An aerial view of the North Fork of An aerial view of the North Fork of Long Island on July 7, 2006. Photo Credit: Newsday

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PSEG Long Island has proposed building a new substation on Shelter Island to tap into a high-voltage cable that already runs under the island, as an alternative to a lower-power cable from Southold that was damaged in superstorm Sandy.

The substation would use power from an existing 69-kilovolt cable to provide power to Shelter Island residents. The island is currently fed by three 13-kilovolt lines, including the damaged one.

PSEG staff spoke with Shelter Island Town officials Friday to discuss the plan.

Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty said the conference call with PSEG officials was productive.

"It looks like we're actively working on a solution, which would be implemented in the fall after the high tourist season is over," he said.

The substation, if pursued, would "make us really independent" from a power perspective, Dougherty said. Officials are expected to have a face-to-face meeting in about two weeks.

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PSEG said it also offered Shelter Island Town officials a second option that would restart a different, failed cable project with a new contractor after a formal bidding process. It would involve drilling a new cable tunnel under the seabed in the waters between Southold and Shelter Island, near the failed line, PSEG said.

Jeff Weir, a PSEG spokesman, said the company told town officials that it will work up an analysis of the two projects in coming weeks but completion of either project wouldn't happen until the summer of 2015.

Weir wouldn't say whether PSEG preferred either project, nor would he release any cost estimates. All LIPA/PSEG customers pay for such upgrade projects through rates. It's unclear whether the Long Island Power Authority will recoup costs from the failed project.

The $9-million Southold-to-Shelter Island cable project was suspended last fall after a drill head snapped off and became lodged in the casing of the 36-inch-wide, 4,000-foot-long tunnel for the cable. Southold residents who lived near the work area have complained about noise, spills and the duration of the project, which was originally scheduled to be completed by last May.

LIPA and its former primary contractor, National Grid, terminated the contract of drilling firm Bortech Co. of Milton, N.Y., in the fall after it was unable to clear the broken drill head and finish the job. A Bortech official declined to comment.

The Southold cable project was complex. It required horizontal drilling 50 feet beneath the seabed, under 90 feet of water.

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