Electric Reliability Upgrades Planned in Ship Bottom

Jul 25, 2018

Atlantic City Electric officials are in the process of finalizing enhancement and modernization plans for all of Long Beach Island, including upgrades to the Third Street substation in Ship Bottom and other improvements to the local energy grid on the barrier island.

While the utility company was mostly quiet on the specifications for the project, Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck said recently the company has purchased a residential building across from Lyceum Health and Fitness Club on West Eighth Street in the gateway community to LBI.

“They’ve already indicated to us they will come before the land use board at some point,” Huelsenbeck said, adding nothing has been submitted to date. “They’ve already talked with the DOT (state Department of Transportation).”

DOT officials did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The improvement work is expected to help boost redundancy on the Island, according to Huelsenbeck. It was initially slated to take place in Beach Haven, he said.

Frank Tedesco, senior communications specialist for Atlantic City Electric, said the utility company, which is owned and operated by Exelon, the same company that owns and operates the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station and has an ownership interest in the Salem Nuclear Power Plant in Salem County, said the company routinely upgrades facilities and equipment.

“In 2017, Atlantic City Electric spent $312 million to modernize and fortify the local energy grid,” Tedesco said, “including more than $171 million in the local distribution grid.”

He said the work included inspecting and upgrading equipment such as switches, poles and other devices; installing stronger, tree-resistant aerial cable; and trimming trees, which cause about 40 percent of power outages for customers each year. The company, which serves 547,000 customers in Ocean, Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden and Burlington counties, updated 39 distribution feeders, replaced or installed 5.3 miles of new underground cable, replaced more than 7 miles of aerial cable, installed 302 reclosers – equipment to auto-restore power after momentary interruptions – installed new transformers at the company’s Mantua and Silver Lake substations, and completed the new High Street substation in Woolwich Township, Tedesco said.

“This project also included upgrading 18 miles of transmission line and the use of steel utility poles, capable of withstanding winds up to 120 mph,” he said, noting because of all of the efforts, Atlantic City Electric customers last year experienced the lowest average number of electric outages in the company’s history, as well as the fastest restoration times ever.

The average number of outages decreased from the previous low, set in 2015, by 17 percent, Tedesco reported. When customers did experience an outage, Atlantic City Electric restored power an average of seven minutes faster than the previous record, set in 2015, he added.

“During the past five years, the number of electric outages has decreased by more than 40 percent, and outage length has been reduced by 18 percent,” Tedesco said.

Atlantic City Electric was first incorporated in 1924. Its service area is roughly 2,700 square miles, and it employs 560 individuals across eight facilities. More than half are union members.

— Gina G. Scala

ggscala@thesandpaper.net

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