Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (‘BELCO’ or the ‘Company’) today provided an update on current work to upgrade the Company’s underground transmission system.
As part of the project, BELCO is replacing 40% of its current underground transmission cables that are over 50 years old. Nearly 25% of our cables have served Bermuda for over 60 years. These cables and other transmission and distribution assets are well beyond their useful lifespans, causing a higher number of faults, system vulnerability and higher maintenance costs. BELCO’s transmission project is an investment of approximately $50 million.
BELCO’s transmission network is 100% underground and serves as the backbone to the BELCO grid. The upgrades are critical to improve network reliability for Bermuda and to support future distributed renewable energy penetration around the island.
The project is taking place in multiple locations across the island simultaneously in an effort to have it completed as soon as possible rather than stretch it out over several years. Once the trenching works and cable installations have been completed, the Ministry of Public Works will repave the affected roads.
During this trenching project and where possible, extra duct is being installed for future use by utilities to reduce the need to re-trench and repave the roads for the foreseeable future. Wherever possible, BELCO has been collaborating with interested parties, including the Bermuda Government and other utilities to leverage opportunities to minimise disruption and reduce overall costs.
While the duct has been installed and the trench filled and paved, the paving is only temporary. BELCO crews come behind the trench work and need to open up small access points in order to pull cable through the newly installed ducts.
Once the trenching work has been completed and new cables have been installed, the Ministry of Public Works, Highway Section will then come behind and re-pave the road. Trenching is approximately 65% complete and will continue until the end of 2023.
To-date, the project has utilised the resources of 6 construction and excavation companies island-wide, putting many Bermudians to work.
Work is currently taking place in the following locations:
- Harrington Sound Road between Trinity Church and Paynter’s Road – cable laying and cable jointing in joint holes. Targeted completion for May, 2022 with fibre cable installation following.
- Town Hill, Flatts – trenching paused near bus layby but trenching will continue along middle road to the substation before cable pulling and jointing.
- Store Hill to Flatts – Trenching during evenings with works taking place near Flatts Post Office. Targeting late March/early April to reach Flatts substation. Cable pulling and jointing to follow.
- National Stadium to Barker’s Hill – work just started on supporting a new feed for Department of Public Transportation (DPT) charging infrastructure for electric buses.
- Belmont to Camp Hill – trench work on Middle Road near Camp Hill Road junction. This junction will be closed from March 7 until April 11. Cable pulling and cable jointing targeted to be completed in early June with fibre cable to follow.
- Middle Road near Southampton Princess – major trenching to be completed in March. Joint holes to be excavated and cable pulled after.
- Middle Road near Rockaway – trenching approximately 73% complete. Joint holes to be excavated and cable pulled and jointed after.
Additional trenching that is in the planning phases now includes:
- Airport to Mullet Bay via Stokes Point, Coney Island to Airport (submarine crossing), Coney Island to Fractious Street, Barker’s Hill to Store Hill and lighthouse Hill/Middle Road Junction to Camp Hill.
Further trenching in the west will be planned and executed next year.
Managing Director of Transmission, Distribution and Retail (TD&R) Shelly Leman said: “At BELCO, we understand these essential works are an inconvenience to the public. We are making a substantial investment in building a more robust and reliable transmission and distribution network that can accommodate future energy needs, including adding large-scale renewable energy. We are making good progress on the project and I would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we work to complete this project as safely and expeditiously as possible.”
BELCO President Wayne Caines said: “As the energy industry has evolved over the past 117 years, BELCO has strived to go above and beyond in terms of safety and service to the community. We understand these works are an inconvenience to the public and we apologise for the delays. However, these works are essential as we build for our future energy needs and transition to becoming a renewable energy company. Everyone in Bermuda is a stakeholder on this journey and we appreciate your patience, understanding and support as we invest in building more robust infrastructure for our future needs and meet our promise of becoming a renewable energy company.”
The public can learn more about the project, including where trenching is taking place at www.belco.bm/transmission-distribution-retail/