Commonwealth Utilities Corp. personnel are expected to finish replacing all wooden power poles on Saipan way ahead of the extension deadline given by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The original deadline for the project to be completed was Aug. 31; CUC asked for an extension, which FEMA set on Feb. 4, 2019.
CUC executive director Gary Camacho told Saipan Tribune that they asked for the extension since they were not about to meet the August deadline, with 50 more wooden power poles to be replaced back then.
“FEMA granted us the extension. However, we’re not going to wait until the Feb. 4 deadline to finish the last 50. Since the extension, we’ve already done 26,” added Camacho, who attended yesterday’s Saipan Chamber of Commerce meeting with CUC legal counsel James Sirok and board chair Miranda V. Manglona.
As of yesterday, CUC was already down to 24 and CUC personnel would continue with the project, part of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant 406, until all poles are replaced with concrete ones.
Adrian Reyes is the project engineer.
Camacho said that what they would do now is to complete the project of replacing the wooden power poles so that areas that have critical need for uninterrupted electricity won’t be affected by future storms.
“The idea now is to strategically do them and not affect the schools or any critical facility that needs power to be secured. That’s kind of our target, having the critical facilities to have uninterrupted power like the [Commonwealth Health Center],” Camacho said.
“We’re going to…continue completing this project and hopefully be able to do it without affecting these critical facilities. As I said, there were 50 power poles left when we asked for the extension and we’ve done 26 since then. The extension is through Feb. 4, 2019, but we plan to finish the project prior to the 2019 deadline.”
CUC’s project aims to replace all 787 wooden power poles on the island supported by a $7.2-million grant from FEMA. It is also part of FEMA’s hazard mitigation project, which CUC aims to strengthen the CNMI’s power and water supply and distribution in the event of disasters.
The project cost for labor, materials, and other equipment is 100 percent covered under FEMA’s Section 406 assistance program. FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant 406 is a public assistance program that provides funds for mitigation measures to repair disaster-damaged facilities.