Utility poles to be updated in Berlin, WOC

(Sept. 19, 2014) Delmarva Power held a community meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 16 to discuss their $43 million project to rebuild transmission lines between Berlin and Ocean City.

Beginning in October of this year, the company will replace the existing nine mile, 69,000 volt transmission line in order to increase electric system capacity and improve overall reliability.

The project includes replacing roughly 150 45-to-65 foot wooden poles with 80-to-90 foot steel poles, as well as installing new underwater cable under the Isle of Wight Bay between West Ocean City and downtown Ocean City at 2nd Street bayside.

The meeting, held at the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company on Keyser Point Road, drew six people and lasted less than an hour. Matt Likovich, a spokesman for Delmarva Power, said Delmarva Power Sr. Public Affairs Manager Jim Smith gave a presentation similar to the one he gave to the Berlin Mayor and Council on Monday, Sept. 8.

The project necessitates a four-hour overnight interruption of power on Dec. 9, which would affect 2,400 residents in the town of Berlin. The outage will not affect Delmarva Power customers.

Public comments included questions about the difference in the height of the poles.

“We told the audience that industry standards call for taller poles,” said Likovich. “It’s necessary to provide adequate clearance between the new infrastructure and the ground, and that’s just industry standard being different now than they were 50 years ago when that line was originally built. That’s for safety and reliability reasons.”

Delmarva Power will move some portions of the line closer to the road than they were previously.

“The closer proximity to the road at some particular juncture points allows for easier access if trucks have to do any maintenance work,” Likovich said. “It’s easier to get to the transmission line to do the work.”

Another resident raised the question of whether the higher poles would have adverse safety or health effects, which Delmarva Power claimed would not be an issue.

“We gave the six people there facts sheets and generally they seemed satisfied,” Likovich said. “Nobody there was opposed to what we were doing – I think they just wanted to get some answers. The general feeling I got was that they see the need for the project, and what we were explaining seemed to make sense to them.

“I saw some heads nod in agreement when we told them that the poles would be steel poles as opposed to the wooden poles that were there, and that those steel poles would withstand hurricane-force winds of 120 miles an hour,” Likovich continued. “When Jim said that I saw heads nod in agreement like, ‘that makes sense,’ especially in the Ocean City area when the winds come roaring through in a big storm. Having poles that are able to withstand 120 mile an hours winds is a good thing.”

Likovich said Delmarva Power advertised the meeting in local newspapers and sent mailers to several hundred home and property owners in the area.

“We’ve held meetings on a variety of projects similar to this throughout our territory over the last couple of years, and I can’t recall any opposition to our other projects that we’ve unveiled in our service territory,” Likovich said. “When you get a small turnout I think it’s a sign that customers are comfortable with what we’ve explained. We have a history of doing good work in terms of improving reliability; we’re safe with what we do and we’re looking out for the customers. I think, with people not showing up with the information we’ve sent out, they seem to be satisfied so they don’t see the need to say anything or hear anything.”

Likovich estimated the project would add approximately 24 cents to the average monthly bill of a Delmarva Power customer based on usage of 1,000-kilowatt hours per month.

“We’re pleased with how things are going,” Likovich said. “We’ve had contact with Ocean City officials, keeping them abreast of what we plan to do, so I think we’re in good shape right now.”

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