Reprinted from The Outer Banks Voice
OUTER BANKS — More progress was made Tuesday on solutions to bring full electrical service back to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, and the time it is expected to take has been shortened again.
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative announced Tuesday evening it now estimates power across Oregon Inlet can be restored in four to six days.
“This includes the time required for testing after all construction is complete and before transmission service can begin,” a statement from the coop said.
The cooperative said Tuesday it is working with Dare County officials to coordinate the safe return of visitors as soon as possible.
The power went out at 4:30 a.m. Thursday when the company building the replacement for the 50-year-old Bonner Bridge drove a steel casing into the electrical transmission system.
Casings are giant tubes that enclose individual concrete pilings to keep them in position while they are installed in clusters to support 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.
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative provided more details Tuesday evening about what is taking place at the north end of Pea Island, where the line was cut.
After completing installation of the poles required for overhead transmission lines, crews worked quickly to anchor the poles, place guy wires and build the right structures to accommodate other system components.
Concurrently, the specialist team from New River Electrical Corporation will begin prep work for the highly technical and detailed process of connecting the new overhead cables to the existing underground lines just before the site of the damage and to the existing overhead lines that run the length of Hatteras Island.
Conditions at the trench continue to present significant challenges. The PCL Construction excavation team has worked hard to remove water the trench via a hydro-vacuum truck, and a well and pump system.
However, because of the depth below the water table and the location adjacent to the Pamlico Sound and Oregon Inlet, water continues to seep in.
Crews continue their work to make trench conditions safe for the splicing specialists.
The cooperative did not give an update Tuesday night on the option of increasing generator power production, but more equipment has been brought onto Hatteras Island to shore up the temporary system current being used to provide power to residents.
Ocracoke is running on three portable generators, and work started Monday on repairing the permanent generator there that was damaged in the first 10 minutes of operation Thursday morning.
Rolling outages of up to 30 minutes are possible on parts of Hatteras Island and in Ocracoke village to allow for routine maintenance of the generators.
This story is provided courtesy of the Outer Banks Voice, a digital newspaper covering the Outer Banks. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Voice to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest about our coast. You can read other stories about the Outer Banks here.