Cleco Power began construction this month on a 12-mile, storm-hardened transmission line from Amelia to its Bayou Vista substation.
The aim, the company says is to strengthen power service reliability for customers in southeast Louisiana.
“This project is unique as the line is being built across 93 percent wetlands, meaning we’re relying extensively on helicopters and marsh equipment to minimize impact on the wetlands,” said Lance Speer, Cleco senior engineer and construction manager for the project. “Included in that terrain are two islands, Avoca Island and Bateman Island, which have no road access.”
Cleco’s new line includes 101 new steel transmission structures with the majority of these structures ranging in height from 80- to 110-feet, which is nearly triple the size of the average utility pole. The largest of Cleco’s structures will be approximately 239-feet tall, the equivalent of a 22-story building, in order for the line to cross the Atchafalaya River. The line also is crossing three other major waterways: Bayou Shaffer, Bayou Boeuf and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
“There are currently 11 substations in the area where the line will be routed – seven belong to Cleco, and four to neighboring utilities. All 11 of these substations are currently served from two lines,” said Chris Thibodeaux, Cleco manager of transmission strategy and support. “This project adds a third source into that area midway between the 11 substations, therefore strengthening reliability along the Louisiana Gulf Coast region.”
“When the project is completed, the line will be able to withstand winds up to 120 mph," he added.
Additionally, the new transmission line is designed to help protect the structures should debris fly or blow into the line which significantly lessens the potential for structural damage and speeds up the restoration process, officials say.
The project will cost approximately $62 million, which includes the construction of the line and power for lights on the water-crossing structures, as well as the expansion of Cleco’s Bayou Vista substation, officials say.
Following completion of construction and successful performance testing, the line and equipment are expected to be placed into service in mid-2019, CLECO predicts.