Cable shutdown postponed

Until fall of 2018
Fri, 03/09/2018 - 9:00am

The temporary shut down of National Grid’s sea2shore transmission cable for a 24-hour period has been postponed until the fall of 2018. National Grid had originally planned to shut the cable down on March 13 to conduct work at its Wakefield substation. Now the work in the fall will involve two things: adding an additional protective sleeve to the cable at the Town Beach and foundation work on the Wakefield substation.

National Grid spokesman Michael Masseur told The Block Island Times that, “We continue to work closely with a number of stakeholders, including the Town of New Shoreham, Block Island Power Company, and Deepwater Wind to determine the most appropriate plans, including timing. In our discussions with them, doing the work in the fall emerged as a preferable option.”

“We are currently discussing a plan to install additional sleeving along a section of cable approximately 275 feet long that is seaward of where sleeving already has been installed,” noted Masseur. “In the course of this planning, a decision was made to postpone the work originally scheduled to take place in Wakefield next week to coincide with the fall work. We will share more information in the coming weeks.”

Ted Kresse, Director of Strategic Communications, said Grid is working with the Coastal Resources Management Council to remedy the too-shallow cable burial depth at the Town Beach, and that could include adding the protective sleeve. During installation, NGrid encountered hard seabed about 200 feet from shore where the cable was buried at a depth of about two to three feet instead of the requisite four to six feet.

“National Grid has been monitoring the burial depth of the submarine cable just offshore from Crescent Beach for an extended period of time, completing its most recent round of surveys in late October,” said Kresse. “We recently presented the findings of those surveys, including burial depth data, to various state agencies and we are now working closely with all involved parties to create a plan that will provide additional protection for a small section of the cable.”

As for work on the Wakefield substation, Masseur said that when the utility company conducts the foundation work the cable will need to be de-energized for safety reasons. In other words, the cable will not be operational, and there will not be a flow of electrons through it at that time. BIPCo will either operate on backup diesel generation to power the Island while that work is being conducted, or get power directly from the Wind Farm.

Kresse noted that National Grid “recently began discussions with Deepwater Wind, BIPCo, and the Town of New Shoreham” about the cable burial depth issue. “National Grid is committed to working with the community and key stakeholders to develop a plan that can meet a wide scope of objectives. Once a plan has been developed, we will share more details.”

BIPCo President Jeffery Wright told The Times that it was National Grid’s “decision to move the cable work to the fall. We could’ve supported the March outage, but we weren’t disappointed to see it pushed out into the fall. Our only request was to coordinate all of their work at the same time so we can limit the required outages.”