Reliability Work Runs Deep

Contractors used a specialized barge to install the power cable. The cable was encased in pipe near the island shorelines for protection against the surf.

May 25, 2018

Ohio Edison recently went to unusual lengths – and depths – to help ensure reliable service to the Bass Islands off the Lake Erie coast.

“It was a unique project for us,” says Brian Reinhardt, engineer IV, Performance Management, of the work to replace underwater cable serving the islands. “For example, as part of the National Historic Preservation Act, we conducted a side scan sonar survey of the entire route to make sure the cable didn’t go over top of a sunken ship. There are a lot of ships in that area.”

The Bass Islands are comprised of three islands – South, Middle and North – located north of Sandusky, Ohio. In April, Ohio Edison replaced the cable between Middle and North islands.

“We ran about 6,400 feet of distribution submarine cable, which replaced the original cable installed in 1956,” Brian says. “Ohio Edison installed new cable between the mainland and South and Middle islands during previous projects.”

Contractors used a specialized barge to run the cable – consisting of three conductors encased in an armored sheath – under the water between Middle and North islands. Crews from Ohio Edison’s Sandusky Service Center handled the ground work to connect the cable to the distribution system on the islands.

“There’s no regular ferry service to North Bass Island,” Brian says. “We chartered a ferry to transport line trucks and then flew crews on an airplane to the island on work days. Most of the crew work was completed last year.”

Ohio Edison’s Brian Reinhardt (left) and Kevin Sestak (right) inspect the new cable after it was pulled through a conduit onto North Bass Island. Brian was the project engineer; Kevin is vice president of Operations. Cable manufacturer representative George Slyman is in the background.

South Bass Island is home to the village of Put-In-Bay – a popular tourist destination during the summer months. Historically, Middle and North islands have been known for their vineyards. “They started vineyards there because the water keeps the islands warmer and the grapes could grow longer,” Brian says. “There are very few people who live on North Bass Island year-round. It’s mostly summer cottages.”

A diver inspects the underwater trench near the shoreline before installation of the power cable.

Brian commended Ohio Edison reliability engineer Jeff Heuring, Sandusky line supervisors Brian Moore and Rob Scott, FEU Environmental coordinator Mike Gordon and members of the corporate environmental group – including Jerry Vinson and Michelle Matejka – for their efforts throughout the project’s planning and implementation stages. “From the Sandusky crews to the corporate support groups, it was a total team effort – which enabled us to complete the project without any OSHA-recordable or environmental spill incidents,” he says.

The original cable – installed in 1956 – was cut into sections and placed in a barge for disposal.

An excavating contractor cleans out a trench near the shoreline. A severe storm pushed debris into the trench before the cable installation.