By Jennifer Tuohy, Island Eye News Editor
The Isle of Palms has a new “redundant” power line. The 5-mile-long, 115,000-volt transmission line, which went operational on March 19, provides a backup for the island, without ruining its views.
The line runs under the marsh from Mount Pleasant and comes up behind the new Harris Teeter store on Palm Boulevard. It then crosses under the IOP Connector and comes up on a new riser that has been built just north of City Hall. From there is connects to the sub-station behind City Hall.
“The line was put in place primarily to provide backup electrical service to that area,” Eric Boomhower, spokesperson for SCE&G, said. “If you had a failure of the line that’s in place right now, you will have no power. It’s like building a second bridge to the island, it’s a backup.”
“We really like knowing that line is under the marsh and not as vulnerable to storms that would knock them out,” Linda Tucker, Isle of Palms city administrator, said. “Everyone wishes you could have a power line that didn’t involve a riser—but we did want the reliability of that under-marsh line. The line that is above ground, south of the connector, if it gets compromised in some way, then we’re without power for a long time. Now if it goes down we have a redundancy.”
“It will just increase the reliability,” Kim Asbill SCE&G spokeswoman, told the Post & Courier in September. “Power to the Isle of Palms and portions of Sullivan’s Island as well as northern Mount Pleasant could be restored in minutes, instead of hours or days.”
SCE&G first proposed the line back in 2012. In the ensuing 18 months the City worked with the power company to determine the best place for it to touch down on the island and connect to the substation.
“We were fortunate that SCE&G were willing to make this investment and that we were in possession of property that could facilitate the riser,” Tucker said. “We worked to get that riser where it would be least objectionable and provide the security of the redundant line. If you’ve got a lot of vacationers in town and the power goes out, particularly during peak season, it would be very inconvenient to the island.”