Hilton Head Island underground power project close to completion

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Palmetto Electric said the company is more than halfway done with their underground power project on Hilton Head Island.

The electric company says burying cables will have several benefits and it proved its worth during Hurricane Irma.

Palmetto Electric crews were out on Wiley Road Friday working on the company's underground power project. It's a project they started back in 2004.

"We've worked hard for 15 years in cooperation with the town in transferring the overhead distribution system," said Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Palmetto Electric, Tray Hunter.

Hunter says burying these power lines underground will provide the island with several benefits, like reducing the number of outages during severe storms.

"It's preventative, but you know, you can never win against mother nature," Hunter said. "The ice is the enemy. Ice builds up on lines and causes them to sag. It breaks poles and brings down trees."

Although outages are still possible, Hunter says underground power lines reduce the time it takes to get services back up and running.

"When we had Irma, we had a big surge problem. When the surge came in, the equipment went underwater. As soon as the tide went back out, the services came back on. If it would have been above ground and we lost the lines, we would have had to reconstruct everything," Hunter said.

The company says hiding the lines underground will also help with the island's overall look and safety.

"You see them all the time and you get used to them, but then you truly do notice when they're gone and it's a much better view," Hunter said.

The company is around 90 percent complete with the project. Crews still need to service portions of Spanish Wells and Marshland Road.

According to the company's latest progress report, crews have removed 2,418 power poles and 1,085 overhead transformers around Hilton Head Island.
Around 109 miles of overhead lines have been replaced with underground lines.

The project is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Copyright 2018 WTOC. All rights reserved.