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Cape Gazette
Lewes, Delaware
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April 5, 2005     Cape Gazette
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April 5, 2005

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Lewes residents, BP.W.brie.fed on new city transmission hnes By Henry J. Evans Jr. Lewes residents might like the luxury of putting replacement power transmission lines under- ground but the $4 million to $6 million price tag that would be af- fixed to the job might make it un- affordable. Richard K. Booth, president of Booth & Associates Inc., a con- suiting engineering firm, gave a detailed presentation to about 40 residents, the Lewes Board of Public Works and the Mayor and City Council about plans to re- build the city's aging 69-kilovolt power transmission line. The special informational meet- ing was held March 31 at the Lewes Public Library. At the presentation's outset, Booth said his grandfather engi- neered the installation of the city's existing transmission line. "If he were alive today he'd be 101 years old so that should give you some idea of how old the sys- tem is," Booth said. He said that because of its age, it is now critical that the transmis- sion line be replaced as soon as possible because Lewes is "very susceptible to an extended power outage." The job at hand is the replace- ment of transmission wires, 35 poles to support those wires and various other materials needed for the 1.8-mile transmission line run. Booth is also recommending re- construction of a substation locat- ed just off Savannah Road near Cape Henlopen High School to accommodate new switching sys- tems that would make the city sig- nificantly less vulnerable to out- ages. Using a PowerPoint presenta- tion, Booth detailed the advan- tages and disadvantages of in- stalling wood, steel or concrete poles in rebuilding the transmis- sion line. "It's kind of like picking out a car, there are a lot of choices," Booth said of selecting a type of pole. Of the three material types, Booth recommended steel poles manufactured from Cor-I0 steel. He said that Cor-10 steel is spe- cially formulated to be extremely hard and is intentionally designed to rust. "That rust is like its paint. It forms a protective patina and the pole is maintenance-free," Booth said. He said wood poles of the length needed for the Lewes job are now very scarce and would need to be replaced more fre- quently because they are prone to rot and other types of damage. Booth said soils in the Lewes area would poorly support the im- mense weight of concrete poles. He said installation costs of con- crete poles would also be higher because of weight and the need for special cranes to lift them. Booth said the route the new transmission line would follow re- mains the same, except where it now runs behind the Lewes Public Library next to the railroad track. He said in that area, the trans- mission line would be moved to make it more evenly parallel to the railroad tracks. Booth said burying the trans- mission line could be done but at much greater expense than the cost of an above ground system thathe estimated would cost $1 million. He said a comparable under- ground system would cost $4 mil- lion and an underground system with a "redundant" loop that would serve as a back-up line would cost $6 million. He said putting just a portion of the system underground would still cost nearly $4 million. "Cost is one of the reasons the vast majority of transmission lines are above ground," Booth said. Another reason for above ground transmission lines is ease of repair. "If you have a problem with an underground line it could take one to three days to correct compared to four to six hours for an above ground line. Underground lines are just hard to get to and fix," Booth said. The board is considering Booth's recommendations and could decide on how the job will be done at its April 21 meeting. 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