Officials meet with National Grid on cable project

Fri, 03/20/2020 - 9:45am

Town Manager Jim Kern and Facilities Manager Sam Bird recently met with representatives from National Grid to ensure that the project to rebury the two transmission cables attached to the Block Island Wind Farm stays on track.

The meeting, which took place on Thursday, March 12, “was basically just an update meeting. Nothing has changed,”  said Bird. The project is expected to begin in October and finish by May 2021. Bird said that National Grid has re-surveyed the ocean floor where the cable is buried and is tweaking its plans to rebury the cable based on new data.

There are two cables that need to be reburied. One is owned by National Grid and the other by Ørsted A/S, the company that now owns the Block Island Wind Farm. Bird said that the reburied section of the National Grid cable is about 1,800 feet off Town Beach in about 20 feet of water. The Ørsted cable section to be reburied is 3,000 feet from the beach and will be reburied about 30 feet down.

Bird said that adhering to the schedule was discussed and that May 2021 was still “the drop dead parameter for this. They cannot be there in the summer.”

Bird said that the town was in the process of drafting the easements, which will define “where the work will take place on the island and grant them permission to work on the site.” He said that National Grid will be paying for the process of drafting those easements and that they should be ready in about 60 days.

Bird said that although this is a complicated and technical project, much of what will be happening will be beneath the water. There will be two horizontal drill machines in the parking lots.

Bird also said it was impossible to know just how much the project was going to cost.  “National Grid is reluctant to state those numbers because they’re going through the bid process,” Bird said. National Grid has said the cost of the project will be shared by both island and mainland ratepayers. Ørsted has said that it will pay for its reburial. Ørsted was not the company that originally surveyed the ocean floor or installed the cable.