Grid seeking remedy to cable issue

At Town Beach
Fri, 08/10/2018 - 9:30am

The sea2shore transmission cable, installed by National Grid as part of the Block Island Wind Farm project, can now be seen about 25 feet from Town Beach at low tide. The cable, which is yellow and black, was getting some attention on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 8. The cable connects Block Island to the mainland.

Beachgoers were floating and swimming above the cable, which at low tide was about three feet below the water. The exposed section of cable is also about 100 feet in front of an area marked by 12 white buoys, which has been designated a “no anchor” zone, to warn boaters not to drop anchor onto the section where the cable is not buried deep enough.

There are 34,500 volts running through the cable.

Laura Dwyer, spokesperson for the Coastal Resources Management Council, told The Block Island Times that, “The CRMC met with representatives from National Grid and Deepwater Wind on Friday morning, and the CRMC is requiring the two companies to work quickly toward both a short-term and long-term solution. During the meeting, DWW and National Grid expressed that they are going to send a diver out for a visual confirmation immediately, and obtain a more detailed survey of the area, and are reaching out to their international contacts that might have experience with an exposed cable.”

“We will be meeting with them again in two weeks for their solution for immediate resolution, and again in September for proposals on a more permanent solution to this problem,” noted Dwyer. “The CRMC and other permitting agencies are taking this very seriously, and will be pushing National Grid to implement measures as soon as possible.” 

Ted Kresse, Director of Strategic Communications for National Grid, said, “We are aware of the recent reports that the sea2shore cable and its protective sleeving are visible, at times, at low tide on Crescent Beach. We share the public’s concern about this visibility, which has been caused by the significant amount of sediment that has been lost in the area in the past several months.”

“While we share the concern about public safety, we are confident that the cable itself is, as it always has been, safe even if not fully covered by sediment,” he said. “The cable is built to deliver decades of service in extreme submarine conditions. It is very heavy and exceptionally well-protected and insulated.”

Kresse said Grid conducted monthly surveys of the sediment coverage of the cable over the past year, which “have indicated significant shifting of sediment and loss of sand on Crescent Beach. From what we understand, other parts of Block Island are also seeing a significant loss of sediment due to extreme weather.” 

“This fall we plan on installing additional sleeving over another section of cable to protect it from potential damage from a stray anchor or other heavy object. We will be meeting with the Coastal Resources Management Council and Deepwater Wind [on Thursday, Aug. 9] to discuss the current situation and explore other options. We will keep the town and other officials updated accordingly.”

Jeffery Wright, President of the Block Island Power Company, said, “The cable is fully armored and insulated. That doesn’t take away that to stand on top of it is a little unnerving. Be respectful of it.”