Beach cable work to continue into June

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 11:30am

Equipment and personnel associated with the cable installation portion of the Block Island Wind Farm are expected to occupy the Fred Benson Town Beach and its north parking lot until June 21. That equipment includes fencing, trucks, a large crane and National Grid’s steel cofferdam that is situated in the surf zone. 

Per its agreement with the Town of New Shoreham, National Grid’s deadline for cable installation at the Town Beach was May 15 with seven floating workdays available to be utilized at the company’s discretion until June 21. The seven days specifically involve National Grid’s sea2shore cable installation activity at the Town Beach. National Grid’s 20-mile long submarine cable will connect Block Island to the mainland at Scarborough Beach. 

“National Grid expects to begin installation of the sea2shore undersea cable by the end of May, with a target completion date of mid-June,” National Grid Media Relations Director David Graves told The Block Island Times on Monday, May 16.

Graves’ declaration of targeting mid-June means that National Grid’s equipment and personnel will occupy the Town Beach sand and north parking lot for a seven day stretch until June 21 to complete its sea2shore cable installation. 

“At this time we are in line to get the offshore work done by mid-June,” said Graves. “We plan to use the seven days available to us until June 21 to bring the (sea2shore) cable ashore and pull it to the (north) parking lot manhole” at the Town Beach.

Graves said that National Grid has “demobilized at the Town Beach per the directive of the easement agreement” that the utility company has with the Town of New Shoreham. “We are concentrating on installing the undergound cable up to the Block Island Power Company (BIPCo) property on Ocean Avenue,” he said. National Grid is building a substation on property adjacent to BIPCo, which will accommodate the flow of electrons from the wind farm to the company’s mainland electrical power grid.  

Graves noted that the large crane being used by National Grid would remain at the beach under an agreement with the town.

“We’re using the same contractors,” said Graves, noting that National Grid and Deepwater Wind have engaged the services of the cable manufacturer LS Cable on the project. The two companies have also employed Caldwell Marine, which is operating the CLB Big Max, and a variety of subcontractors. 

Since National Grid encountered delays setting back its cable installation at the Town Beach, Deepwater Wind has commenced installation of its eight-mile long export cable from the beach to the wind farm site, located three miles off the southeast coast of the island. Deepwater Wind said on May 11 that the export cable would require about 10 days to install.

Once Deepwater Wind completes installation of its export cable, National Grid will commence its sea2shore cable installation, which utilizes the same cable-laying-barge, CLB Big Max, beginning the process of laying the sea2shore cable from Scarborough Beach to the Town Beach on Block Island.

Graves said that installing the sea2shore cable by June 21 hinges on a number of things, including Deepwater Wind installing its export cable in a timely manner, and any weather issues that may arise. “Hurricane season begins June 1,” he said. “So, it’s a very complex process.”

As for the scope of National Grid’s cable installation work on Block Island, Graves noted that land-based cable installation and substation construction at the Block Island Power Company’s (BIPCo) Ocean Avenue property will be ongoing until November of 2016. That means that National Grid will have a presence on Block Island throughout the summer season.    

“There’s still work to be done,” said Graves. “We look forward to completing the installation of the underground conduits and the successful completion of the sea2shore project. We expect that our portion of the Block Island Wind Farm project will be completed in November (of 2016). We will be completing construction of the substation on BIPCo’s property, and the underground cabling that will allow Deepwater Wind to draw power from BIPCo to be transmitted to the wind turbine construction sites.”

Deepwater Wind has said that the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm will be operational in the fall of 2016.