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Brief: WAPA Infrastructure Could Improve Emergency Communications

Sept. 6, 2006 — The V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board met recently with V.I. Homeland Security officials to discuss using WAPA's underground conduits to strengthen fiber optic communication networks, according to a recent WAPA release.
These networks are needed by the federal and local Homeland Security agencies to improve communications within and outside the territory, particularly in the aftermath of a disaster.
After receiving a brief presentation from V.I. National Guard Adj. Gen. Eddy Charles, who oversees the territory's Office of Homeland Security, the board suggested that a written proposal be submitted for further consideration and discussion after which WAPA and Homeland Security officials will speak further to ascertain the integrity and vulnerabilities of WAPA's systems, should any acts of terrorism occur in the territory.
As a result of several capital improvement projects over the last few years, WAPA has been constructing these important underground conduits and extending its underground feeders to improve system reliability and mitigate damage resulting from hurricanes and other disasters. The extension of underground Feeder No. 8 to Frederiksted is presently under construction. WAPA has also installed fiber optic cable lines in preparation for installation of a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system, which will allow technical personnel in the power plant to immediately recognize and respond to any problems in the field.
The authority is also exploring the possibilities of maximizing its outside facilities by leasing lines to communication companies interested in operating and maintaining a Broadband over Power Lines (BPL) system. BPL is a wire line method of communication that uses existing electric power transmission and distribution lines for voice and data communications. While a number of local and national companies expressed interest in WAPA's Request for Proposal (RFP) issued in June, no formal proposals were received. WAPA anticipates a greater response to its revised RFP, which will be issued within the coming months.

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