SMECO plans Patuxent River drilling -- Gazette.Net



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The Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative is scheduled to start drilling under the Patuxent River on Sept. 9 near the neighborhood on North Patuxent Beach Road in California.

The work is anticipated to last until December as SMECO connects a new electrical loop from Calvert to St. Mary’s County.

The $110 million project started in April 2012 in Calvert County and has installed 186 new power poles there, upgrading a 69-kilovolt line to 230 kilovolts.

When the work moves to St. Mary’s County, 31 of the new power poles will be placed along 4 miles from Buck Hewitt Road to Patuxent Boulevard in California. Old poles with heights of 65 to 75 feet will be replaced by taller poles with heights ranging from 110 to 160 feet, spaced farther apart, said Tom Dennison, public affairs manager for SMECO.

The project will allow the cooperative to “divert power both ways if there’s a problem on the system,” closing the electrical loop, he said in a Tuesday briefing to the St. Mary’s County commissioners.

SMECO will bore two tunnels 30 to 50 feet under the deep Patuxent River, starting at a location at North Patuxent Beach Road, across 4,700 feet, and coming up at the Navy Recreation Center in Solomons. That work is scheduled to begin Sept. 9, and it is expected to last for four months, said Kenneth Capps, vice president and chief operating officer of SMECO.

St. Mary’s County Commissioner Todd Morgan (R) was told that the new lines won’t infringe on state plans to expand Route 4 or the Thomas Johnson bridge.

“There’s been dialogue back and forth between the parties on bridge considerations,” Capps said.

The overhead power lines should be complete by July 2014, with the entire project done by the end of that year, Dennison said. Go to www.smeco.coop and click the Southern Maryland Reliability Project link for more details on the work.

jbabcock@somdnews.com