PSEG Long Island Tuesday presented a formal plan to construct a new electric facility on Shelter Island that would eliminate the need for a controversial cable from Southold.
The new substation will connect to a major power line that runs under the island and connects the North and South Forks. The substation will require around an acre of property, and a site for one has been identified. The facility would be located off Route 114, a main road running across the island, near Shady Lane.
Substations convert higher-voltage power from plants and other sources to levels usable in homes and businesses.
In a presentation to the Shelter Island Town Council, PSEG said the new substation would "take the uncertainty" out of power transmission to the island. An existing cable failed in 2012, and LIPA contractor National Grid had worked with an upstate company, Bortech Inc., to drill a new one last year from Southold. But the project ultimately failed and raised the ire of Southold residents who had dealt with its noise, spills and delays.
PSEG said the new substation would help meet existing and future energy needs on the island, which is fed by cables at Bridgehampton and Southold.
Last summer, when the Southold cable remained out of service, LIPA brought in temporary generators to provide backup power during the peak summer season. Shelter Island Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty was not available for comment.
PSEG spokesman Jeff Weir said the company estimates the cost of the project at about $10 million to $12 million. If the town and other entities grant approvals, work could start on the project in September 2015 and be completed by summer 2016.
Locating the project near existing transmission and distribution lines will minimize the need for additional work on the island, PSEG said.
Progress on the Shelter Island project comes as PSEG faces contention on two other cable projects, in East Hampton and Port Washington. There, residents and businesses have waged protests over large utility poles and high-voltage lines running through their neighborhoods. They want PSEG to bury the lines. The utility said it must complete the projects on poles now, and will bury them in the future if residents will pay for them.
Weir said there were important differences between the Shelter Island project and East Hampton, noting, among other things, that the "risk [of power outages] is much greater in East Hampton than it is in Shelter Island."
For the summer peak, he noted PSEG plans for only around 12 megawatts of temporary generators on Shelter Island, "significantly lower" than the estimated 40 megawatts of temporary generation that would have been needed in East Hampton.
LIPA/PSEG customers will foot the bill for the Shelter Island project, Weir said.
The abandoned cable between Southold and Shelter Island was a roughly $10 million project. Bortech Inc. didn't respond to calls seeking comment. Weir wouldn't comment on any dispute between LIPA and Bortech, and LIPA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.