National Grid has informed The Block Island Times that the field of a dozen buoys to be installed offshore at the Town Beach to mark the sea2shore cable’s ‘no-anchor zone’ will look like a standard harbor buoy. National Grid needs to install the buoys to alert boaters to the fact that Grid’s cable is buried at nearly zero depth about 200 feet off the beach. National Grid provided The Times with the accompanying image of what the buoy will look like.
At its June 20 meeting, the Town Council authorized Town Manager Ed Roberge to sign an agreement with National Grid setting conditions and a timetable for the cable mitigation project, including installation of the buoy field.
National Grid will pay the Town compensation of $228,000.
According to the agreement, only the two outermost “no anchor zone” buoys of the 12 protecting the exposed undersea transmission cable will be lighted, and will be deployed as soon as June 25. The work to cover the cable itself with a plastic shield will begin no sooner than October 9, and other measures will be taken to “reduce impacts where possible,” Roberge said.
The agreement also says that the Town’s Harbors Department will provide some oversight of the construction on-site or with “spotters” on the beach.
The Councilors reiterated their skepticism about the durability of the shield, and about the Coastal Resources Management Council’s handling of the project.
“I believe [National Grid] will be back again,” Roberge responded. “We’re recommending strongly to the CRMC that this is a short-term project” to protect the cable. The permanent fix, he said, is to bury the cable at the designed depth of six feet below the sea floor.
“Lower(ing) the cable the cable is a major project,” Roberge said. “I don’t think we’re done with this at all.”
Ted Kresse, Director of Strategic Communications for National Grid, said the buoys “look like something you might expect to see in a small boat harbor where there are ‘No Wake’ zone markers. They will be cylindrical in shape, about 12 inches in diameter, and sit a few feet above the water. Our goal is to have them deployed the week of June 25, if not sooner.”
National Grid’s monthly survey conducted on May 15 noted that the cable was at nearly zero burial depth. The cable was not properly buried at the requisite four to six feet during the installation process in June of 2016. The Rhode Island Coastal resources Management Council has requested Grid’s monthly survey to monitor the cable for safety purposes.