December 19, 2015



CHEC plans to switch from generator to
transmission power on Sunday

By IRENE NOLAN



The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative reported this afternoon that work crews have completed splicing together the three transmission cables and have re-energized the transmission lines on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

The islands remained on generator power on Saturday afternoon and will remain on the generators overnight, but on Sunday, Dec. 20, CHEC will begin switching the power load from the generators back to the transmission lines in stages.

The switch will begin early Sunday morning and will require brief power outages in the villages from Buxton north.

Susan Flythe, CHEC executive vice-president and general manager, said that CHEC staff will be checking the transmission lines overnight and will be making the switch to transmission power in stages tomorrow to assure the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Cutting the transmission cables, relocating them, and then splicing them back together is a project that must be completed before contractors for the North Carolina Department of Transportation can begin construction of the replacement for the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet, which is scheduled for March.

The islands were switched to generator power on Wednesday, Dec. 16, and CHEC had announced that the project would take seven days -- until Tuesday, Dec. 22.  However, Flythe said the work crews for the contractor, New River Construction, became faster with each of the three cables they were required to splice back together. They were  also able to work through Friday's wind and rain.

Switching from the generators back to transmission power will begin on Sunday morning at 7 a.m. with a 30-minute outage in Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo. After that 30-minute outage, at about 7:30 a.m., Avon and Buxton will have a very brief outage of less than five minutes.

Flythe said CHEC staff will watch how the re-energized lines are performing for a few hours and then pick up the load from Frisco, Hatteras village, and Ocracoke.  There should be no outages in those three villages, she said.

If all goes as planned, by mid-day, all of Hatteras and Ocracoke island will be off the generators.

Despite the passage of a cold front late Friday, the power load has remained at a point that CHEC managers are comfortable with. CHEC asked its members to begin conservation measures on Friday evening.

The generators on the two islands and three that were brought in for the job can provide the islands with 24 megawatts of power.  However, CHEC must have a cushion and managers were aiming to keep the load at about 20 megawatts.

It had been running at about 10 or 11 MW with the mild weather of the past few days.  With temperatures dropping overnight, this morning load was 15 MV.  However, with the warming of the sun and conservation by islanders, the load was back down to 11 MW at 2 p.m.

Tonight's forecast is for temperatures falling into the upper 30s on Hatteras and Ocracoke, and Flythe said that CHEC will continue to ask members to conserve power one more night.

CHEC, she said, is comfortable that the load can be handled by the generators.  Furthermore, she said,the transmission lines are re-energized if they should be needed in an emergency.

CHEC is advising members that if their power does not return after tomorrow's brief outages, they should call 866-511-9862.

CHEC will provide real-time updates on the process of switching from generators to the transmission lines on Facebook and Twitter.

CONSERVING POWER

Here are the tips that CHEC is offering for conserving power while the islands are on generators:
  • Lower the thermostat: If you have your heat on, consider lowering the temperature by as much as 10 degrees. CHEC recommends a setting of 68 or lower.
  • Consider cold water settings when washing your laundry.
  • Turn off the pre-rinse and heat-dry settings on your dishwasher.
  • Take advantage of blinds and curtains: Open them during the day, especially on windows that face south. Let the sunshine in and warm your home. Close them at night to help insulate.
  • Keep ceiling fans off. Although you may think that you are blowing down warm air, people also feel a chill from the flow of air.
  • Conserving power can be as simple as unplugging chargers for phones and tablets, which draw energy when they aren’t in use.
  • Please do not use electric space heaters.

RELATED ARTICLE

The Editor's Blog:  It will take a community to support seven days on generators.




             
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