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September 9, 2013

National Grid to begin underground cable replacement

WEST NEWBURY — A cable replacement project by National Grid for several roads off Crane Neck Street is getting under way.

In a letter to residents living in the neighborhood, Heather Mae Shampine, community coordinator for the energy company, reported that Mirra Construction company will soon begin installing conduit in the area, a necessary first step before the cable replacement can occur.

The plan is to install new cable within conduit, eliminating the need for future excavation. National Grid hopes to complete the work by early November.

Last month at a community meeting organized by Hilltop Circle resident Jack Connolly, over a dozen residents met with Shampine to air complaints over what they said has been at least 20 years of undependable electrical service and chronic power outages to homes in the Hilltop Circle, Robin Road, Woodcrest Drive and Crescent Drive areas.

At the meeting, Shampine acknowledged that National Grid has classified the West Newbury neighborhood as “a known problem” and “one of the worst performing URDs (underground residential developments)” under its purview. The problems most likely stemmed from the fact that the original cable was laid directly underground with no conduit around it, Shampine said.

The energy company is now working with a cable injection firm to treat the underground direct-buried cables within the development. Cable injection is a process that injects fluid into the cable to enhance its performance.

“This technology has provided excellent results in significantly extending the life of the cable and minimizing outages. Unfortunately, not all underground cable can be treated successfully with the cable injection process and need to be replaced,” a letter recently issued to property owners states.

But because National Grid doesn’t install conduit or do transformer pad work, those portions of the job were contracted out through a bidding process to Mirra Construction.

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