Contractors for the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority have installed more than 460 new composite utility poles out of 7,062 of the new, more resilient poles it plans to install across the territory over the next 12 months.
So far, the composite poles, which can withstand higher sustained wind speeds during a storm, are being installed on St. John, St. Croix and Water Island. Contractors will start installing on St. Thomas shortly, according to the utility. BBC Electrical Services and Haugland Energy are under contract with WAPA for the installation of the composite poles, which each carry a 40-year warranty.
“The project, funded 100 percent by FEMA and HUD, is moving along steadily,” WAPA Executive Lawrence Kupfer said in a statement.
So far, 33 poles have been installed on St. Croix, 402 on St. John and 29 on Water Island.
“The project began on St. John and significant progress has been made to date with the newer poles in place along Centerline Road and out to Coral Bay. A total of 1,400 poles are slated for installation on St. John,” Kupfer said. He said when the project is completed, 3,200 of the newer type poles will be installed on St. Croix, 180 on Water Island, and 2,282 on St. Thomas.
WAPA plans for St. Croix to be completed by mid-2020, and St. Thomas by the end of 2020. Water Island and St. John are projected to be completed by the end of this year.
FEMA is also footing the bill for major work to put electrical supply lines underground on all three islands. Engineering requests for proposals are developed for projects on all three islands. Still to come are advertising and awarding an engineering contract, developing an underground scope of work, design drawings, and advertising and awarding a final construction contract.
The work should unfold over the next several years. WAPA hopes to award all construction contracts by October of 2020. Standby generation for St. John, solar and battery storage systems and electrical micro grids are among the other projects in the works, according to WAPA.