July 31, 2017

Steel casing was being set aside when it cut power to Hatteras

The Outer Banks Voice

As 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.

Crews 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.

The 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.

Cooper 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.”

“Clearly 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.”

The 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.

In the meantime, mandatory evacuations remain in place, which means visitors are not allowed onto the islands to get to their rental homes.

The 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.

Casings 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.

Power 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.

Thousands 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.

Ocracoke is running on three portable generators, and there is no word yet about the possibility of producing enough temporary power to allow visitors back in.

But 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.”

On Sunday, the cooperative said testing showed that all three of the cables in the system were damaged when the contractor for the Bonner Bridge repla
cement project, PLC Construction, drove a steel casing into them. But on Monday, the cooperative said that one of the cables was intact and functional.

Two 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 morning.

The 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 said.

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.

“CHEC 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.

“Depending on which solution turns out to be the most practical, the timeline for a complete repair could vary from one to two weeks.”

A makeshift system of portable generators and a permanent diesel backup system in Buxton is now providing minimal power to Hatteras Island.


07.31.2017-Governor Cooper Visits Excavation Site and Avon Pier
07.31.2017-Overnight Testing Reveals Only Two Cables Are Damaged
07.30.2017-Repairs Underway and Tentative Time Frame Established Outage Update For Sunday Evening July 30
07.30.2017-Pamlico Sound Ferry Routes To Adopt Alternate Schedule
07.30.2017-All Three Transmission Cables Compromised Outage Update For Sunday 8 am
07.28.2017-Severed Transmission Cable Exposed; Testing Planned to Determine Repair Timeline
07.29.2017-Evacuation Moves Forward while CHEC Continues Work to Provide Temporary Power
07.28.2017-Help Is On The Way: NC Ferry Division Delivers Generators To Ocracoke

07.28.2017-Mandatory Power Conservation Measures for Hatteras Island
07.28.2017-Mandatory Evacuation Order Issued for Hatteras Island Visitors
07.28.2017-Crews Working to Determine Time Frame for Power Cable Repairs
07.28.2017-"Today is going to be a better day."
07.27.2017-Gov. Cooper Signs State of Emergency for Hatteras, Ocracoke Islands 
07.27.2017-Visitors ordered to evacuate Ocracoke Island due to power outage.
07.27.2017-Hatteras and Ocracoke Island Power Outage – What We Know So Far
07.27.2017-Staying Hydrated and Safe with Power Outages on Hatteras Island
07.27.2017-Cause of Outage Determined; Update on Island Generator Power
07.27.2017-Widespread Power Outage Affects All Of Hatteras and Ocracoke

comments powered by Disqus