While Puerto RIco makes a big show of defying Washington and continues to flounder in its rebuilding efforts, the US Virgin Islands is continuing to make progress in rebuilding and hardening its infrastructure.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has announced they are working with FEMA to hurricane-proof their electricity grid so another months-long outage doesn’t cripple the territory:
When the electric power system in the U.S. Virgin Islands is rebuilt, it will be stronger than it has ever been, according to WAPA.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA), with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), plans to harden the power grid so it can withstand hurricanes with 200-mile-per-hour winds. Critical transmission lines will be placed underground. A significant number of wooden power poles will be replaced with stronger, composite poles. Power plants, distribution systems, metering systems and equipment will be rebuilt and strengthened.
Lawrence J. Kupfer, WAPA executive director, said the utility is embracing the federal funding opportunities to not only rebuild its transmission and distribution systems to levels of pre-Irma and pre-Maria, but to develop a robust system that can quickly recover from hurricanes or other wind storm damage.
WAPA’s plan is to make sure the system is strong enough to withstand even the most powerful hurricanes in the future. The authority will install more durable composite poles along major feeder paths and on primary transmission circuits. In addition, it will begin developing micro electric grids on critical feeders as well as lay out a plan for undergrounding critical electric loads.
I really think it’s constructive to compare and contrast the differing paths Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have taken in rebuilding themselves in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Puerto Rico’s PREPA stole reconstruction supplies, while WAPA works to harden the Virgin Islands’ electrical grid.