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Shelter Island cable project halfway done, officials say

The $30 million project aims to stem power outages on Shelter Island.

PSEG Long Island manager Manny Lilimpakis, shown on

PSEG Long Island manager Manny Lilimpakis, shown on here on the Shelter Island work site on Feb. 2, 2018, stands next to one of the conduits that had just been laid beneath Peconic Bay in a project aimed at stemming a power shortage on Shelter Island. Credit: Mark Harrington

PSEG Long Island and its tunneling contractor are about halfway finished with a project aimed at stemming a power shortage on Shelter Island as they work through weather and equipment delays to stay on schedule to finish by May 15, officials said.

PSEG officials said in November they expected to have all three cable casings drilled and installed by Jan. 8. But as of Thursday had drilled and installed two. Only one of the casings, also called conduit, will carry the 13,000-volt cable. The other two are spares.

At the work site Wednesday, project manager Manny Lilimpakis said the second cable casing was pulled through the drilled tunnel to Shelter Island around midnight Tuesday.

The $30 million project is being watched closely by Greenport officials and neighbors, some of whom had been wary of the undersea drilling after a failed $9 million attempt to install the cable farther west in Southold in 2013.

“The big issue was the bad weather,” Lilimpakis said, explaining the deviation from the Jan. 8 estimate to have all three conduits in place. Icy weather led to unexpected “blockages” and “many hours” spent winterizing equipment, which also experienced “wear-and-tear,” and had to be replaced.

Otherwise, Lilimpakis said, “everything is progressing quite well. We are still planning to finish the project on time.”

The cable will run for 3,328 feet under the Peconic Bay between Greenport and Shelter Island Heights, to depths of up to 150 feet below the surface, Lilimpakis said.

The project differs from the previous Southold attempt in that the contractor is drilling three bore holes of around 12 inches, which are then expanded through reaming to 16 inches in diameter each.

By comparison, the Southold project used a single 36-inch bore, which can introduce complications. “You eliminate a lot of difficulty by having a smaller bore,” Lilimpakis said.

Tom Beisner is the senior director of projects and construction, overseeing the project.

Most of the land-based cable work, involving trenching along streets, is well underway. About one fifth is completed between Greenport and a Southold substation, while more than two-thirds is complete on the Shelter Island side and could be finished within a week, Lilimpakis said.

Setup work to begin drilling for the third conduit was scheduled to begin Thursday, and drilling could start by the weekend, PSEG said. It will take about five weeks to complete.

After that, equipment to pull the single cable through one of the conduits will be set up on the Shelter Island side, drawing from a spool in Greenport. Drilling is expected to be completed by March 15, Lilimpakis said.

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