The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority continues its efforts to improve grid reliability with its composite pole project now at 88 percent completion territory-wide, the Authority announced Thursday.
Recognizing the critical importance of a robust and resilient power infrastructure, WAPA began the Composite Pole Project in 2017. The project is 90 percent funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Program, with a 10 percent match being provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the press release stated.
Composite poles, made of advanced materials, possess exceptional durability, withstanding extreme weather conditions, including high winds and corrosive environments and offer many advantages over traditional wooden poles. They are also more resistant to rot, decay and termite damage, ensuring longevity and significantly reducing maintenance costs for the Authority in the long term, the release stated.
In less densely populated areas, composite poles offer an advantage over undergrounding because installation typically involves easy replacement of an existing pole, whereas undergrounding involves extensive excavation and more lengthy construction times, it said.
As part of the Composite Pole Project, the WAPA has subcontracted Barkley Technologies for project management and design support services, with RS Poles, PECO and Trident Industries supplying composite poles and AWG providing supplies hardware. On St. Thomas and St. Croix, composite pole installation is being performed by Haugland VI, while on St. John, BBC Electric performed installations, according to the release.
On St. Croix, a total of 3,351 composite poles have been installed, 81 percent of its total. On St. Thomas, 2,330 composite poles have been installed, 99 percent of its total. On St. John, 1,711 composite poles have been installed, 87 percent of its total. Water Island is at 100 percent completion with 200 composite poles installed, the press release stated.
“With almost 90 percent of the total composite poles successfully installed, we are significantly enhancing the reliability of our grid throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Our focus continues to remain on providing our residents and businesses with a dependable and resilient power supply that supports the growth and development of the USVI, particularly given the unique challenges of our region, including hurricanes and tropical storms,” said Cordell Jacobs, interim director of transmission and distribution at the Authority.
“The implementation of composite poles will not only improve uninterrupted power supply but also reduce maintenance costs and improve the overall sustainability of our system,” Jacobs said.
No materials or notices should be posted on utility poles. While posting materials such as flyers, signs or advertisements on electrical poles may seem harmless, it poses a significant risk to both line workers and the utility poles themselves, the release stated.
WAPA’s line workers often perform their duties during the early morning hours or at night when visibility is reduced and staples or nails used to attach materials to utility poles can snag line workers’ clothing and/or gear, potentially causing injuries or accidents. Adhering items to the pole can also compromise structural integrity over time, it said.
To watch updates from Cordell Jacobs, visit WAPA’s YouTube page.