Utility Explains Pole Project, Addresses OC Council Concerns

Utility Explains Pole Project, Addresses OC Council Concerns

OCEAN CITY – Delmarva Power and Light (DP&L) officials came before the Mayor and Council this week to address concerns over the changes being made to the utility poles along Coastal Highway.
Last month Ocean City Council members echoed concerns being heard in the community over the aesthetics of the new utility poles DP&L has installed on Coastal Highway. The council asked for DP&L Senior Public Affairs Manager Jim Smith to come before the council to give an update.
“They are forever changing the look of the Town of Ocean City,” Councilman Joe Mitrecic said at that time.
On Tuesday afternoon, Smith attended the Mayor and City Council’s work session. He reminded the council he had come before them on several occasions to inform the town of the replacement of utility poles from 41st to 85th streets in what is referred to as the Maridel to Ocean Bay Project.
DP&L has also held public meetings to apprise residents on the project as well as submitted several press releases and advertisements throughout the recent past.
According to DP&L, the $5 million project is being built in coordination with PJM Interconnection through its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP). PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
The RTEP process identifies areas where system improvements need to occur in order to ensure electric reliability now and in the future.
The project began in October as DP&L began to rebuild a 69-kilovolt transmission line along Coastal Highway between the Maridel substation on 41st Street and the Ocean Bay substation on 85th Street. A total of 90 wooden poles will be replaced, most of which are more than 40 years old, with galvanized steel poles that require less maintenance and are built to withstand winds of up to 120 mph.
About 45 of these poles, which currently stand 65-feet tall, will be replaced with 90-foot tall poles to ensure maximum safety clearance around nearby buildings.
The project is targeted for completion in February. All post-project cleanup work will be finalized by April.
“The pole height is increasing to 90-feet and that is something we have been very upfront about from the beginning. We have transmission rebuilds going on across the entire peninsula and in most cases if not all the pole heights are going up. We are using more modernized heavier conductor electric lines that require a sturdier structure,” Smith said. “We are transitioning from wood transmission poles to steel, either a weathered type of steel, which is brownish rusted look, or galvanized steel like we are using here. We elected to go with galvanized here because we thought it would fit in better with the scape of Ocean City.”
Smith furthered eight- to nine-foot arms extending off the 90-foot poles will reach out over Coastal Highway, enhancing safety for residents who reside in the project area so closely to the highway.
“I know the diameter of the poles was a concern in the midst of construction,” Smith said. “They are built into the ground with vibratory caissons that we are using to put them in, and some folks thought the caissons going into the ground were the diameter of the poles but the pole diameter is almost the same of what exists. They are about two feet, which is pretty narrow for 90 foot tall poles.”
Smith added DP&L has been working closely with the State Highway Administration in placing the poles in the sidewalks making sure to achieve a five-foot clearance of walking space in as many pole locations as possible.
“This is a big project and I know it doesn’t look the best right now … but we have finished pulling the transmission wire today, so much of the transmission is going to be done. We still have some temporary wooden transmission on the north end of the project we will be changing out at the first of the year. In the January to February time frame, we are going to be working on the shorter poles or the distribution poles that serve our customers. Our hope is no later than the first of April we are going to be cleaned up and out of here,” Smith said.
What is currently being seen is what Smith referred to as “double pole”, which is where the new and old transmission poles continue to stand next to each other.
“Of course, the old ones are going to go away. They contain the distribution lines and that is why they have to stay until the end of our construction,” Smith said. “I think it is going to be sleeker better look than what we had, and from a safety point I think it is going to be shot in the arm to get the wires away from the buildings along Coastal Highway.”
Councilman Dennis Dare thanked DP&L for their outreach and investment in Ocean City’s community.
“I understand we need to have it done,” Mitrecic concluded. “Whether we like it or not it needs to be done for safety and future security.”