Long-delayed drilling for a new power line to Shelter Island began Saturday, PSEG Long Island officials said, and neighbors have already lodged complaints about ground vibrations and a weekend work schedule.
PSEG spokesman Jeffrey Weir said crews Saturday made 150 feet of progress on the plan to drill three 12-inch tunnels over 2,650 feet between Greenport and Shelter Island, up to 120 feet under the seabed. They were back at work Tuesday.
John Saladino, a PSEG-paid liaison between village residents and the utility, said local officials and PSEG will be monitoring to see if vibrations reported by two residents Saturday were related to the drilling.
Progress on the $30 million cable, originally started at a Southold site by a National Grid contractor in 2013 but abandoned after equipment malfunctioned, more recently was impeded by delays in securing permits and flooding at the Greenport site.
After rainy weather last Wednesday, drilling equipment stood idle and in several inches of water in Greenport, delaying the project for days.
PSEG had previously expected drilling would start before the end of September, but delays in getting a state permit and a final agreement with the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corp. pushed back the start.
Saladino said he has been told flooding at the site Thursday did not present environmental concerns, and was the result of filters in storm water drains slowing the movement of water out of the work site and into Peconic Bay.
Weir said PSEG and its contractors “are currently evaluating measures to minimize any flooding that may occur during construction.” He said he believed no equipment was damaged from the flooding.
One big concern of neighbors is a schedule that allows contractors to work on Saturday in Greenport but not Shelter Island. A recent PSEG letter that went out to Greenport residents stated incorrectly that the workweek would be Monday through Friday. A new letter with corrected information will go out soon, Saladino said.
Greenport resident Richard Kossmann said the arrangement is unfair. The drilling is happening at the end of Fifth Street near a popular beach. Greenport officials had negotiated a $1.3 million access fee with PSEG. Shelter Island Heights Property Owners negotiated a $1.02 million fee, and a Monday-Friday work schedule. Most of the benefit of the electrical project is for Shelter Island, which has a summer power shortage that requires temporary generators.
“The village gave away the store,” said Kossmann last week. Shelter Island is “getting a benefit and getting paid for the benefit.” Greenport, which has its own municipal electric system, is also getting certain electric-grid upgrades from the deal.
Despite the delays, Weir said installation of the feeder cable on Fifth Street “will begin in mid- to late-November.” He said the company remains “on track to complete all work by May 15, 2018.” Drilling could conclude by the end of this year.