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First tunnel for power cable reaches Shelter Island

The next phase involves expanding the first bore hole to 16 inches before feeding a long plastic sleeve, or conduit, to contain the cable from the Shelter Island side.

PSEG Long Island project manager Manny Lilimpakis stands

PSEG Long Island project manager Manny Lilimpakis stands beside long plastic sleeves that will contain a new power cable to Shelter Island, in Shelter Island on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. Credit: Newsday / Mark Harrington

PSEG Long Island reached an important first step in its plan to bring a new power cable to Shelter Island, extending the first of three tunnels the full 3,328 feet under the Peconic Bay from Greenport.

Contractors for the company made land on Shelter Island from the Greenport drilling site on Tuesday morning, within 3 feet of a planned end point, said project manager Manny Lilimpakis. Breaking through on the first tunnel was important because a previous attempt at installing a cable farther west under National Grid’s management was abandoned after a drill head broke off in a tunnel several hundred feet from its end point.

“We seem to have picked a good path, with no real issues at all,” said Dan McGarry, manager of project management for PSEG. Drilling for the second tunnel will start by month’s end. “Hopefully, the next two will be the same,” he said.

Lilimpakis said the earth up to 120 feet under the sea bed “appears to be friendly,” with no large boulders to impede the drilling. He said the work was moving along in “text-book” fashion. “We’re taking it a step at a time,” he said.

The next phase involves expanding the first bore hole to 16 inches before feeding a long plastic sleeve, or conduit, to contain the cable from the Shelter Island side. Only one of the three tunnels will house a 13,000-volt power cable; the other two are “spares” for possible future use.

Stella Lagudis, general manager of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corp., has been monitoring the work from the Shelter Island side. “So far so good,” she said Wednesday.

The property owners received a payment of just over $1 million from PSEG for the use of its property. The work on the Shelter Island side is extensive, with long lengths of conduit and drilling pipe, hauled by backhoes, working in a parking lot beside the North Ferry terminal and a grass lot beyond it.

After all the sleeves and the power cable are installed, likely by Jan. 7, trenching work to connect the cable to a LIPA utility pole about a mile from the work site will begin on Shelter Island. Similar work will take place along several miles of roadway in Greenport to reach a Southold substation.

All the work is scheduled to be completed by May 15.

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