July 31, 2017
Steel casing was being set aside when it cut power to Hatteras
By ROB MORRIS
The Outer Banks Voice
Gov. Roy Cooper checked the damage and offered assurances that every
effort was being made to restore full power, more details emerged
Monday on how the only source of electricity to Hatteras and Ocracoke
islands was severed in a contruction accident last week.
at the south end of the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet were still
trying to locate one of two damaged underground cables Monday, but an
influx of water was slowing down progress.
second cable was spliced back together overnight after losing a
two-foot section. A third first thought to be damaged was later found
to be intact and functional.
said he and his administration have offered the Cape Hatteras Electric
Cooperative “all the resources that they need to get power back to
these islands as quickly and as safely as possible.”
when you’re talking about the economy of the Outer Banks, summertime is
a great time for people to make their money and this situation has
hurt,” he said. “So every day is important to the economy of this part
of our state.”
cooperative said today that it could be one or two weeks before full
power is restored. But the company is trying to beef up its temporary
generator system in hopes of allowing a staged return of visitors.
the meantime, mandatory evacuations remain in place, which means
visitors are not allowed onto the islands to get to their rental homes.
power went out at 4:30 a.m. Thursday when the company building the
Bonner Bridge replacement over Oregon Inlet drove a steel casing into
the transmission system.
are giant tubes that position individual concrete pilings as they are
being installed in clusters at various angles to hold up the bridge
deck, said Jerry Jennings, District 1 engineer for the North Carolina
Department of Transportation. Workers were setting aside the casing for
future use by driving it partially into the ground.
Susan Flythe, executive vice president and general manager of CHEC, said it was not long before they realized the problem.
“As they drove that casing down into the ground, they heard a pop,” she said.
is delivered by three cables because electrical transmission employs a
three-phase system to keep the power stable and flowing economically.
All three are needed to make it work.
of people are waiting to hear whether their vacation plans can be
salvaged, but no projection for when power might be sufficient is
available yet. In a typical summer week, 50,000 to 60,000 people
vacation on the island, according to Dare County Public Relations
Director Dorothy Hester.
is running on three portable generators, and there is no word yet about
the possibility of producing enough temporary power to allow visitors
in a statement Sunday, CHEC said it was working “to expand the
temporary generation service on Hatteras Island, in order to
accommodate a staged re-entry of visitors.”
Sunday, the cooperative said testing showed that all three of the
cables in the system were damaged when the contractor for the Bonner
project, PLC Construction, drove a steel casing into them. But on
Monday, the cooperative said that one of the cables was intact and
ideas for repairs are in play, the cooperative said. One is to continue
digging for the other damaged cable. One of the severed cables was
uncovered Saturday with about 2 feet missing and was fixed Monday
second idea is to connect a new power line to the south end of the
Bonner Bridge and run it overhead about 9,000 feet south on the east
side of N.C. 12, then over to existing poles on the west side, Flythe
Now, the existing lines are carried over Oregon Inlet
by the bridge, then run underground before emerging onto the power
poles south of the inlet. The transmission system will eventually be
moved to the new bridge.
will actively pursue both of these solutions until it is clear which of
these will provide the fastest and safest option for a full repair,”
the statement said.
on which solution turns out to be the most practical, the timeline for
a complete repair could vary from one to two weeks.”
makeshift system of portable generators and a permanent diesel backup
system in Buxton is now providing minimal power to Hatteras Island.