Duke Energy and Village Officials Meet to Discuss Multi-Year Project and Outages

Last week, Village officials met with Duke Energy representatives to discuss Duke’s multi-year grid improvement project, recent power outages, outage impacts to the Village’s lift stations, and a few other items that came up in discussion.  It was a very productive meeting, and the Village would like to share some of the information that was learned that would be helpful to Duke Energy customers on Bald Head Island.

Grid Improvement Project – Duke Energy and its contractors are getting close to completing the heavy-duty work on the island, this work entails large machinery to bore under the ground to install upgraded power lines conduit. One of the upgrades to the island’s power grid is the addition of conduit to provide better protection for the power lines from the elements.  Duke is planning to have this part of the project completed by year’s end.

The next step in the project is to install the switch gears. The switch gear equipment was the main element of this project, but for the switch gear to operate, the island’s power lines needed to be upgraded first.  The switch gear will allow Duke to redirect power from one location to another if there is an outage. Right now, there is a single point of failure when there is an outage and when the upgrades are in place, Duke will be able to switch to another line, which will help isolate an outage to a smaller number of customers, more easily detect where the issues are, and result in shorter outages when there is one. This step of the project will take some time to complete.  Duke indicated that at some points during the process of installing the switches, some outages may be necessary.  Known planned outages will be communicated to the Village and then to Islanders through the Village’s Voice communications, social media, and CodeRed notification system. Servicing of the equipment will be the last step of the project.  Duke representatives could not give a definite completion date at this time but said Duke Energy is expecting to be working on the island through 2022 and into 2023. Since December 2020, Duke Energy has been submitting a monthly update on this project for Islanders.  This report is included in the Village’s monthly Village’s Voice issues and is also found on the Duke Energy Updates webpage HERE.

Outages – The Village and Duke representatives discussed the recent outages that have occurred on the island, both occurred during the weekend. Village staff and Duke will be working on ways to get notifications to Village staff when there is an outage on the island outside of normal working hours. The Public Services Director discussed the importance of knowing about outages especially when they last several hours because depending on the population on the island, this could affect the operability of the lift stations. Duke and Village Utilities will be working together to make sure lift station locations are on Duke’s map so that future outages have the least amount of impact possible on the Village’s sewer service. 

Clarification was provided on the outage map information.  Duke representatives indicated that the map is determined by customer reports of outages.  This makes it important for Duke customers to contact Duke each time there is an outage at their location.  Some outages may be isolated to one or two homes. With smart meters in place, Duke will eventually be able to know more about which locations are without power.  Currently, there is not that full functionality in the equipment.  Customers can also view information about the outage on the outage map website. Duke reps said that information about outages is updated regularly including the estimated restoration times.  Village staff would like to remind customers to contact Duke Energy directly with any service issues.  The Village is often not provided any additional information than what is indicated on the outage map webpage.

Duke Energy’s outage map can be found HERE.

Duke Energy’s video about the outage map can be found HERE.

Sign up for the Village’s CodeRed Notifications HERE.

Other items – The Village asked Duke representatives about a question that had been asked by citizens about the sirens for the Brunswick Nuclear Plant.  The question was what would happen with the sirens in the event of a power outage.  Village staff confirmed with the Brunswick Nuclear Plant communications staff that the sirens have a battery back-up to ensure they will be operable in the event of a power outage.

Duke Energy officials indicated that they will be working with the BHI Conservancy regarding the replacement of native trees on the island this year in coordination with the Bald Head Association.  The Village’s lot at the corner of Muscadine and South Bald Head Wynd that is currently used for boring spoils will be cleaned up as well.  The Village hopes to make improvements to the lot to maximize the space for beach access parking.

If you have any questions about any of the information provided in this announcement, or questions in general about Village government and services, please contact us at public.information@villagebhi.org.