Initial stages of cable reburying moving along

Thu, 12/10/2020 - 5:45pm

With lift boats arriving and some new work visible at the Fred Benson Town Beach, The Block Island Times reached out to the two companies overseeing the transmission cable reburial project, to see how the multi-million dollar project was progressing. Questions were answered by Ørsted A/S spokesperson Meaghan Wims and Ted Kresse, National Grid’s Director of Strategic Communications.

BIT: We see some lift boats offshore and a long pipe being stored on the Town Beach. Can you tell us about the lift boats and what the pipe on the beach will be used for?

Meaghan Wims: The liftboats have been set up to receive the drill from the southern parking lot. The pilot hole is now successfully complete and the widening of the hole will continue over the coming days. The long pipe is to allow the cable to be fed into at a later stage. We expect the floating out of the pipe towards the start of the week beginning Dec. 14. The pipe will be fed through the hole pulled from shore with the assistance of the liftboats.

Ted Kresse: The large black pipe on the beach is the actual conduit that will be pulled from offshore through the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) path to the Pavilion parking lot. The pipe that’s there now is for Ørsted’s cable. The submarine cable will be installed through this pipe later on. If you see smaller steel pipe segments, this is part of the HDD equipment that will be used to drill underneath the seafloor. National Grid will have a similar black plastic pipe temporarily stored on the beach when our construction starts (after Ørsted’s HDD work is completed). The lift boats will be used for the offshore work that will be conducted in the weeks ahead.

BIT: We’ve had quite a bit of rain. Is the flooding at the parking lots a hindrance to your work, or more of a nuisance?

MG: Rain is always something we are working with at this time of year. We are in dialogue with Rhode Island and Block Island authorities on the best way forward to continue working through these weather events. 

TK: The work currently being done is related to Ørsted’s cable and Ørsted would have to answer that. We understand it is causing some inconvenience, but Ørsted and their contractor are best able to respond.

BIT: Speaking of rain, is the project on schedule and on budget?

MW: The project is still on schedule. As a reminder, the costs from Ørsted’s repairs will not be passed along to ratepayers. We are not commenting on the project budget. 

TK: Yes. We built into our timeline a cushion for weather, and the project is still on schedule to be completed by next summer.

BIT: Any other issues that may be of interest to the town?

MW: The town has been a great host to our teams and some of their immediate families during some challenging times for us all. We appreciate the hospitality shown by the island services and the residents.

TK: Not at this time. Our thanks to everyone on the island for their cooperation in respecting the construction area and their patience as we complete this critical project.