SMECO poles
PHOTO BY SMECO

Huntingtown, MD – A project that is expected to significantly improve electric service reliability in north-central Calvert County is about to get underway, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) officials reported. During the Tuesday, May 9 meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners, SMECO representatives Tom Dennison and Ken Capps gave the board and viewing public an overview of the project. The Huntingtown to Sunderland Line construction project will begin next month and will be done in two phases. Completion of the project is forecast for May 2018.

During the presentation Dennison explained the 69-kilovolt transmission line would run 4.1 miles on 99 galvanized poles along Route 4 within an existing right-of-way. The poles are similar to ones that have previously been erected along Route 4 in Dunkirk. They range in size from 61 to 66 feet.

“It’s very critical for our infrastructure in Calvert County,” said Dennison. “What this line will do is close a loop for us.”

Dennison explained that during a recent inspection of the existing line several deteriorated poles were found to be in need of repair and replacement. Co-op officials estimate a single pole failure along the existing route could adversely impact close to 8,000 customers. Since the area of service has rough terrain and access an outage could prove to be lengthy.

Capps noted that the existing wooden poles have been utilized for several decades and over the years the number of customers has grown significantly.  “This line is going to give us an alternate path to get around what we see as the biggest risk,” said Capps. Acknowledging the replacement poles will be substantially higher that the current structures, he added, “we gain a lot of reliability by going higher. We can restore power much quicker.”

“It’s the responsible thing to do,” Dennison added.

Commissioner Pat Nutter [R – District 2] noted that several years ago controversy arose over SMECO’s replacement of wooden poles in a residential portion of Huntingtown. Capps indicated the replacement poles to be used for the pending project shouldn’t yield any concerns about denigration of property values, especially since most of the structures will have no foundations or guywires. Soil texture will be factored when crews determine how deep to bury the poles in the ground. Eight of the poles, described as “dead-end,” will have concrete foundations. 

Dennison told the commissioners that all affected landowners would be contacted by mail about the project. Interruptions in power are not anticipated during the one year of construction. Additionally, morning rush hour traffic will not be hampered by the project since crews won’t begin work until after 9 a.m. and will be coordinated with the Maryland State Highway Administration.

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com