[private] The new concrete utility poles lining Roatan roadsides are part of a plan to improve electrical service and reduce power outages, according to Roatan Electric Company (RECO) officials.
RECO is erecting 90 of the new poles between Los Fuertes and Coxen Hole to support a new third transmission circuit intended to split the power load going to the western part of the island to reduce and isolate outages, said Matthew Harper, RECO’s director of operations.
General Manger Richard Warren said the new poles would also incorporate streetlamps, probably using high-efficiency light-emitting diodes (LED). This would “completely illuminate” the main road between Los Fuertes and Coxen Hole, he said.
Warren said the new circuit would probably also transmit power from a 4-megawatt windfarm that is awaiting approvals from Tegucigalpa. He said the 26 wind turbines had already been purchased and are being overhauled. They would be installed above Spanish Town in the Brasil Hill area. Installation would take about 8-10 months after the permits are received (not a foregone conclusion), including paving the road leading to the site.
Warren said RECO would also seek approval to build a 25-MW coal-fired plant that would take two years to build at a cost of $35 million. Harper said the plant would produce fewer emissions than RECO’s existing diesel generators and would meet or exceed U.S. environmental standards. With the new wind and coal facilities in place, RECO could take all its current high-cost diesel generators offline.
The new poles currently share the roadside with older wooden poles supporting telephone and cable TV lines, creating unsightly tangles of overhead wires in places. But RECO officials said they expected those lines would eventually be moved to the new poles (pending agreement with the line owners) and the old poles would be removed. Harper estimated within a year there would be no more wooden poles between Los Fuertes and Coxen Hole. Meanwhile, he said, wooden poles elsewhere on the island will be replaced with concrete ones as they wear out, so that within 5-8 years there should be no more wooden poles on the island.
Warren explained that the wooden poles have a useful life in this climate of about 20 years, whereas the concrete ones can last “almost indefinitely.” They stand up better to hurricanes, he said, but apparently not so well to errant motorists, one of whom knocked one over in front of the airport in the wee hours April 1, causing many customers in Western Roatan to awake without power Palm Sunday.
Roatan Mayor Julio Galindo said he had requested RECO to put reflective stripes on the poles to make them more visible to motorists and avoid such mishaps. [/private]