The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is trying to complete several hazard mitigation projects to ensure power and water supply and distribution on all three islands even in the event of a disaster.
CUC executive director Gary Camacho said that CUC is almost done with replacing all power poles as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s $7.2-million grant—coordinated through the Capital Improvement Project office—after Typhoon Soudelor swept through Saipan three years ago.
CUC personnel have been replacing wooden power poles with concrete ones as part of the 406 Hazard Mitigation project. They are replacing a total of 787 power poles that were damaged during Typhoon Soudelor.
Power poles are being replaced by areas and CUC customers could expect momentary outages. FEMA’s deadline is at the end of the month and Camacho is asking the public’s patience over the temporary outages.
“We’re going to order more power poles, about 209 concrete power poles, as part of FEMA’s hardening mitigation program. We’ve given all our efforts to harden our systems after Typhoon Soudelor. Our efforts are equally distributed on all three islands—Saipan, Tinian, and Rota—since they are all CUC customers,” said Camacho.
He added that water supply is also part of their hazard mitigation project where the new system would allow water to be distributed to CUC customers even in the event of a disaster.
“Also, the return of Power Plant 3 will power the wells at Isley Field and Obyan area, which again will be distributed in the event of a disaster,” said Camacho. “In addition, CUC will still generate water in the event of a scheduled power outage. All of these are currently ongoing.”
He said the projects involved all of CUC’s divisions in trying to secure power and water distribution and supply won’t be interrupted in case of emergencies or disaster.
“The current wooden power poles are being replaced with concrete. Some are also being removed and put underground because the idea is to harden it in an event of a disaster,” said Camacho.
“So we can turn it on if the overhead system gets affected. The idea is to remove the dependency on the power plants in these areas and have them self-generate. …If the distribution system breaks between here to Isley Field, it would be okay. Isley field will have a generator to put power back and turn those wells on.”