Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative is working against time, tides, and Mother Nature to move its temporary power poles at Pea Island Inlet to permanent structures, farther from the eroding shoreline.
After Hurricane Irene cut the new inlet five miles north of Rodanthe, CHEC erected temporary power poles on the north and south sides to restore electricity over its lines from the north.
Susan Flythe, general manager of CHEC, said work began last week on the permanent poles to take the lines over the inlet.
The temporary poles, Flythe said, stretched 400 feet over the inlet. The new poles will carry the lines over 700 feet.
“We were just buying time with the temporary poles,” Flythe said.
Tides and wave action from frequent north and northeast winds have continued to erode the south side of the inlet, and the poles have continued to get closer to the water.
The National Weather Service office in Newport, N.C., is forecasting another coastal storm for tomorrow into Saturday.
Forecasters expect gale force winds, especially late Friday into Saturday. The culprit, the NWS says, will be a developing low moving off the southeast North Carolina coast late Friday. The low will move out Friday night and Saturday as strong high press build in from the north, resulting in a pressure gradient that will produce strong northerly winds over the coastal waters with seas building into the 12- to 14-foot range, if not higher.
Forecasters this afternoon were looking at the possibility of issuing a wind advisory for the coast with the potential for some coastal flooding.
In preparation, CHEC has placed another 45 sandbags around the temporary lines this week, while crews for contractors erect the permanent poles.
The 95-foot steel permanent poles, Flythe said, will be encased in 28-foot concrete caissons, sunk 24 feet into the ground.
They will be located west of the temporary poles and behind the sheet piling installed on each side of the inlet by the North Carolina Department of Transportation during its installation of a temporary bridge.
The transmission lines on the new poles should be up and running by week after next, Flythe said.
The plan calls for the island – and Ocracoke – to return to generator power for three to five days, beginning next Tuesday, while the lines are moving to the new poles.
The power company says customers in Buxton, Avon, Rodanthe, Waves, and Salvo can expect a planned 30-minute power outage from 5 to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, Nov. 8, ahead of the shift to the generators.
Until permanent power is restored to the island, CHEC is advising its customers to do what they can to conserve electricity.
Permanent structures to run the high voltage power line over the Mid-Pea Island Inlet are under construction.
Lee Electrical began work this week erecting new concrete and metal poles that will allow the line to stretch 700-feet from each side of the inlet.
Susan Flythe, general manager of Cape Hatteras Electrical Co-op, says the work will put the poles behind the sheet piling used to protect each end of the temporary bridge. The work will take about two and a half weeks to complete.
Flythe says full power will continue through the line, but both Hatteras and Ocracoke islands will have to switch to generator power for a short period to allow for the final switch over to the permanent poles. No date has been set for the switch.