Visitors to Ocracoke often wonder how we get electricity to the village. Although there is a 4,400 horsepower generator at Tideland Electric's facility on Odd Fellows Lane that serves the island during emergencies (as was the case after Hurricane Matthew last year), day-to-day power is provided by a large submarine cable laid under Hatteras Inlet.
The photo above shows a small section of the four million dollar armored electric cable, with additional fiber optic cables inside, that was installed in 2005. I didn't measure the cable, but it is about 7" in diameter.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is Ellen Marie Cloud's first person
account of the "Great Ocracoke Lighthouse Windows Heist." You can read
it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news012117.htm.
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Wow, cool picture. I always wondered what a submerged cable looked like. So, does anyone know, what happens if this thing was accidentally cut while in the water? Does it trip some kind of breaker or could you technically be shocked if you were nearby? I'm imagining the world's largest GFI outlet. Does it just lay on the bottom? Thanks for the interesting post.ReplyDelete
In the unlikely event that the cable is cut I do not know what happens! However, I have sent your questions to the Tideland EMC Director of Public Relations. When I receive a reply I will make another post with her answers.Delete
ANON6:36 has a few interesting questions, however if the representative example pictured above is a section of the cable installed/buried in 2005 HOW did the island get juiced before 2005. Now, I have seen a few Pink Panther movies and when the burglars cut the utility lines they don't get shocked but then that is Hollywood. But if a power line goes down in a hurricane it is still electrified and could shock someone not grounded. Oh, the theory of electricity ,the rudimentary knowledge of such is so far from the vast majority of us who depend upon it so. Especially the younger generation that need to recharge their phone and MP3 p players every 20 minutes while on the job. GFI does that not mean ground fault interupter or something like that--- which prevents an overloaded circuit . that is drawing more power then intended thus preventing overheating and an electrical fire? Is not water a great conductor of electricity How is it electric eels can swim in the ocean and we don't get shocked.... Perhaps an electrician out there has the Capacity to shock us with the Ohm-ly truth on this topic.ReplyDelete
Ocracoke Island depended on locally generated electricity until 1966. After the Bonner bridge was built across Oregon Inlet, arrangements were made to buy electric power from Virginia, and transmit it via a cable attached to the bridge, and then via a submarine cable under Hatteras Inlet. The cable in the photo above replaced the earlier cable in 2005.Delete
I have written a rather thorough history of the electrification of Ocracoke Island. Look for that article as a future monthly Newsletter.ReplyDelete
My understanding is that all "electric grids" or supply lines, like the under water cable are "protected" by circuit breakers or fuse like devices that are a little bit like the ones in your homes. When power lines are knocked down, these circuit breakers kick off and stop the power flow. If they do not automatically kick off... the wires continue to be "live" and if you come into contact with them you can be shocked, injured or even killed. These breakers can be manually thrown off if need be. At vehicle crashes and such, rescue workers need to be very cautious and be certain that the power has been turned off. If this large underwater cable was damaged or cut into by some type of dredge or machine, yes, you could get shocked before these breakers kicked off. On a smaller scale, much the same way as underground cables providing power to your house. If a backhoe cut into one of these cables, there would be an initial risk of getting shocked / injured prior to the breaker kicking off. That is why it is critical to not dig until all utilities are located and marked off or if power lines are down due to a storm or accident, DO NOT approach them until you are certain that the power is off. And yes, if the ground is wet, and you get close enough, you can get shocked and injured with out actually touching the lines themselves.ReplyDelete
Anon, 10:59, Thank you for your comment -- all important information. I will publish Tideland's reply to my inquiries on Monday.Delete