PHILIPSBURG–Utilities Company GEBE is expected to complete placing its high voltage overhead distribution system underground within the next three years.
Currently 90 per cent of the company’s high voltage distribution system is already located underground and 60 per cent of its low voltage distribution system is underground.
The remaining 10 per cent of the high voltage overhead to underground cable laying project will be completed in three years while the company is “gradually,” changing the remaining overhead low voltage system to an underground system, GEBE official Donald Webster told the small gathering of attendees at the company’s public information session on Thursday evening.
Several GEBE officials addressed a wide range of issues related to the company during the session.
As it relates to the distribution system, Webster said since hurricane Luis devastated the island in 1995, GEBE embarked on an overhead to underground cable laying project, which entails placing all overhead electrical cables underground.
Some of the challenges of the underground cabling project are roadways and properties with boundaries that are not clearly defined; also acquiring land for transformer station placement. He explained the importance of having transformer houses. GEBE transformers that are located on utility poles in the overhead distribution system have to be placed in a transformer house, once the overhead cables are laid underground. Some landowners make unreasonable demands during negotiations for land to build a transformer house, however, Webster said GEBE will only pay fair market value for land.
In the meantime, the company continues to install new electricity metres. A total of 1,600 new electricity metres have been installed around the island. In the next three years all the remaining existing electricity metres will be replaced.