Ocean City Today

Power project hits snag under bay

By Greg Ellison | May 03, 2018
Source: File Photo Delmarva Power’s $43 million project to upgrade electric transmission lines between Berlin and Ocean City, which launched in fall 2014, has stretched on longer than anticipated after directional drilling equipment hit upon bedrock under the Isle of Wight Bay.

(May 4, 2018) Delmarva Power’s $43 million project to upgrade electric transmission lines between Berlin and Ocean City, which began in fall 2014, will take longer because of nature: frequent bad weather and a wall of bedrock under the Isle of Wight Bay.

Jake Sneeden, Delmarva Power communications manager, said the first phase of a project to rebuild nine miles of 69,000-volt transmission lines was completed in 2015.

“That was an aerial transmission line that went all the way to our culvert substation in West Ocean City,” he said.

While the project was on a fast track initially, Sneeden said the wheels slowed after crews began work to replace a submerged cable that was run under the Isle of Wight Bay in 1971.

“The last component is the connection to our Ocean City substation, which requires an underwater cable,” he said. “The project is delayed because there were challenges with the underwater component.”

With New Jersey drilling contractor Carson Corp. set up its directional drilling machinery on 1st Street in 2015, the intent was to bore a route across the bay, 50 feet below the bay bottom, to allow two 38-inch PVC pipes to carry power cables to connect the substations in West Ocean City and Ocean City.

Using a new directional drill purchased for more than $2 million, Carson’s initial efforts went well. Then the drill augured into unexpected bedrock, making the job a literal grind.

Although two underground channels were to be drilled, Sneeden said one pipe crossing was deemed safe to use.

“We completed the drilling of that earlier this year,” he said. “The only thing that hasn’t been done on the project is pulling through the cables.”

With summer approaching, the project would take a seasonal hiatus, Sneeden said.

“Work will be wrapping up in the next week or two,” he said. “They’ll come back in the fall [and] they’re going to pull the cable through.”

When work reconvenes, Sneeden said the final steps would entail crews connecting underground cables to the downtown Ocean City substation.

“We expect the project to be energized and serving the community in time for summer 2019, if not sooner,” he said.

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