In a bucket truck at the intersection of Gilford Avenue and Union Avenue this week, Gordon Brown with Eversource Energy helps the company complete a $1.6 million project to replace over 100 utility poles in Laconia. (David Carkhuff/The Laconia Daily Sun)
Underground utilities to replaced starting in spring
By DAVID CARKHUFF, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Downtown businesses may face disruption this spring, summer and fall as Eversource Energy replaces underground cable and transformers dating to the 1960s.
"It will include scheduled outages, and once the equipment is being replaced, it could affect power to some customers, but they will be given notice in advance," said Kaitlyn Woods, media relations specialist in New Hampshire for Eversource Energy.
"We will be working with the businesses in scheduling the outages and doing everything we can to mitigate any disruptions," Woods said. "And the project will significantly enhance reliability to businesses and residential customers in the area."
Crews will concentrate on Church Street and Beacon Street east and west, where all underground utilities will be replaced, Woods said.
The underground system in Laconia serves about 175 customers, but there will be a total of about 321 customers that will benefit from the upgrades once they're completed in the downtown, she said.
RH White Civil Contractor in Bow won the contract for digging and trenching, which has begun. Due to frost in the ground, the job has been suspended until spring, Woods said.
Eversource Energy will award bids for two replacement phases, when new infrastructure will be installed, Woods said. The job, costing $1.2 million to $1.4 million, should be done by the end of the year, Woods said.
Communication will be important as the tourist season starts.
"We're working to keep the city updated," Woods said.
The project is part of the operating budget for the utility, she said.
"The project is paid from our operating budget, which is covered in our rates under the distribution charge, which is used to maintain our electric system," she said.
The work is part of a timetable of replacements for equipment dating to the 1960s.
"It's just beyond its life so it's time to be replaced," Woods said.
"The project is designed to be expandable, so as the downtown grows, if we need to, it will make it easier to connect new customers," she said.
Eversource Energy is finishing a separate project, the replacement of more than 100 utility poles in Laconia. Costing $1.6 million, this project includes stronger wires, new transformers and the installation of an automatic switching device at the Messer Street substation. This device can reroute power to 533 customers following an outage, Woods said. The automatic switching device at the Messer Street substation will lay the foundation for the future installation of additional similar devices, she said.
Joe Purington, Eversource vice president of electrical operations, explained in a press release, "The work we are completing in Laconia will establish a foundation for the installation of smart switches, which will enable our system operators to re-route power to customers when an outage occurs. This automated equipment requires no human action, which allows us to restore an outage almost instantly. In many cases, customers are not even affected by the outage."
The improvements will make the electric system more resistant to severe weather, ice and wind, reducing the risk of an electrical outage, the company reported.
"We are anticipating wrapping that up in mid-February," Woods said.
In an unrelated, state project along Winnisquam Lake, Eversource Energy was asked to move utility poles due to the relocation of guardrails, Woods said.