Western Area Power Administration

The Hard Slog of Power Restoration - Virgin Islands Edition

Oct. 21, 2017
The work load is vast and coordination essential as crews struggle to restore hurricane damaged electric grids.

It has been a month since Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. Virgin Islands. Western Area Power Administration and local utility crews from the USVI Water and Power Authority are partnering in a systematic approach to restore power. It is not a simple process. Rough terrain, unseen safety hazards and extensive infrastructure damage from the impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria complicate the effort.

It takes coordination and teamwork to accomplish such an immense and arduous task. WAPA is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the entire federal community to aid in recovery efforts and restore power as quickly and safely as possible.

WAPA deployed 25 transmission line experts and a fleet of 10 vehicles to St. Thomas. Since Sept. 26, our crews have been working seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, in hot, humid conditions to fix the island’s electrical backbone. In partnership with USVI power authority contract staff, they are setting poles and getting transmission line conductors back in the air. The effort takes a toll on personnel and involves a significant amount of time to repair due to the magnitude of damage.

Our crews’ priority is to restore the transmission lines between St. Thomas substations. The transmission system feeds the island’s distribution system. It is also the bridge to power restoration on St. John. Once the crews finish repairs to the transmission line and re-energize East End Substation, the submarine cable that delivers power from St. Thomas to St. John can be restored.

The 2017 hurricane season pounded the infrastructure in the Caribbean. It serves as a reminder that storms will come and that our experts are prepared to handle it. The everyday job of operating and maintaining transmission lines across our 15-state footprint has galvanized our team of system operators, engineers and craftsmen. They are ready to work safely and effectively, solving problems and restoring power regardless of the geography and climate.

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