By Gerald Rogers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
PONCE, Puerto Rico, Dec. 26, 2017 — In an effort to help Puerto Rico's citizens recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the Army Corps of Engineers Task Force Power Restoration continues its mission to restore the island’s electrical power grid.
The Ponce laydown yard site is the engineering team’s focal point for amassing an increasing inventory of critical power grid materials, including thousands of wooden, concrete and steel utility poles and hundreds of massive coils of heavy high tension wire. At the warehouse, tons of smaller grid components, transformers, conductors, insulators and electric regulators are among the items housed.
Robert Govero, the Corps' logistics management specialist working at the laydown yard, stated that when their mission to restore Puerto Rico’s power grid began, it took time to spin up and get these critical materials flowing in mass to the island.
Needed Materials Continue to Arrive
After scouring the nation to obtain needed quantities of grid components, the team has seen a marked increase in the amount of materials arriving to support the mission.
The utility poles, wire coils and other component materials are barged down the Atlantic Ocean from Jacksonville, Florida, to the San Juan port, where they are carefully inventoried and offloaded onto trucks for delivery to Ponce.
Once a request is received through the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the warehouse team quickly assembles the material request onto pallets for pick up.
“We maintain 100-percent accountability of every item, from the smallest electrical component to the 5,500-pound concrete utility pole, until it arrives at the delivery site, is stored and ultimately issued to the workforce,” said Daniel Brown, task force bill of materials accountable officer.
During the last 72 hours, Brown said, more than 70,000 items have been packed up for issue to the workforce.
Hundreds of massive coils of heavy high tension wire arrive at the laydown yard in Ponce, Puerto Rico.
Hundreds of massive coils of heavy high tension wire arrive at the laydown yard in Ponce, Puerto Rico, part of the tons of critical electrical components flowing in daily from throughout the nation to rebuild the island’s electrical distribution system, Dec. 22, 2017. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Gerald Rogers
“Last Friday, 20 truckloads of material was delivered to the workforce,” he added.
Plans are underway to stand up a second laydown yard in San Juan to speed delivery and make the process more efficient.
Task Force Power Restoration continues to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, said chief of engineers, Army Lt. Gen Todd T. Semonite, who visited the team Dec. 21, and spoke about their critical mission.
Semonite said that given the enormous scope of work, the Corps estimates 75 percent of the island’s power grid is tracking to be online by the end of January 2018; 95 percent by the end of February, and any other remaining remote sites completed by May.