Fri, 02/14/2020 - 12:45pm

A deadline that must be met

After a few years of back and forth, and the appearance of a new owner of the Block Island Wind Farm, there appears to be a viable, if expensive, plan in place to rebury the two transmission cables at Town Beach. One of the cables is owned by Ørsted, the other by National Grid.

The problem has been, of course, that sections of both cables were once exposed, for a period of time, causing some worry and a public relations irritation for both National Grid and Ørsted.

Although the complicated plan is already in motion, it still needs to go through an extensive permitting process, including the town granting new easements for the project, as well as permissions from the Coastal Resources Management Council, the Army Corps of Engineers, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

We hope that these agencies will approve these permits expeditiously, because, as it was noted at the Town Council meeting on Feb. 12, time is of the essence.

Massive pieces of equipment, crews, and technology will have to be imported to the island by the fall. The two companies, working more or less side by side, will have to horizontally drill a conduit from the beach out into the ocean to the spot where a new section of cable will spliced and brought back through the conduit onto the island’s shore.

This is a tremendous undertaking, and must be done before the summer of 2021. If it is not finished on time, it could be, as one councilor put it, catastrophic.

Deadlines on getting this project done have come and gone before.

This is one that must be met.