CAPE MAY — Last month, a thunderstorm left Cape May, West Cape May and Cape May Point without power for over an hour.
With the building of a new substation to replace the current one on Elmira Street in Cape May, Atlantic City Electric is working to ensure an event like this is prevented in the future, said Frank Tedesco, a spokesperson for the utility.
Aging infrastructure has spurred the recent overhaul and modernization of the systems that connect local grids to regional transmission systems, Tedesco said in a news release. The current substation was built in 1909 and hasn’t been updated for over 20 years.
The new substation will improve the reliability of service to more than 7,100 homes and businesses, he said.
Service can become strained by extreme weather events and higher demand during the summer. The new substation will be elevated several feet above flood zones and will have the ability to be remotely operated during a storm. A second transformer is also being built to meet increased demand, Tedesco said.
In August 2019, a power outage caused by damage to a transformer left many without electricity or air conditioning. A second transformer will ensure if damage happens to one, the other is ready to go. These improvements should translate to more reliable service for residents in the Cape May region, and a reduction in the frequency and duration of power outages when they occur.
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The Cape towns are not alone in seeing these kinds of upgrades and improvements to their infrastructure and service. Atlantic City Electric currently has nine additional reliability projects in the works, including in Atlantic City, Brigantine and elsewhere in Atlantic and Gloucester counties.
The Atlantic City/Brigantine project is taking extra caution to protect against coastal storms. Steel poles that can withstand hurricane-force winds of 120 mph will replace wooden poles along routes 30 and 187. Transmission lines leading into Brigantine and the substation will be placed underground. Completion is expected in May 2022.
“2020 was our best reliability year ever in our company’s history,” said Tedesco. “The ongoing work we are performing across our service area is having an impact.”
Construction of the new substation in Cape May is expected to be completed by May 2023.