During the first Water and Power Authority board meeting of Fiscal Year 2013 on Thursday at WAPA’s administrative offices, the governing board took several measures to better prepare and maintain WAPA equipment that could be affected by hurricanes and other disasters.
System planning manager Allyson Gregory requested that the board approve the purchase of voltage regulators for St. Croix feeders. She said the regulators will be better for hurricane disasters because they are safer and more secure than overhead equipment.
The regulators also prove financially beneficial as they could save WAPA $175,000 a year through feeder optimization, load balance and voltage regulation, according to a line loss study by R.W. Beck, an engineering-based management consulting firm.
“These would replace (equipment) they don’t make anymore. This regulator would be our asset,” said Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. “Regulators have a long lifetime and are reusable.”
According to the line loss study, “a large contributor for the technical losses on St. Croix is distribution losses. One common contributor to distribution losses is depressed voltage.”
Three feeders on St. Croix are currently experiencing areas of low voltage. Gregory said that St. Croix loses an average of 9 percent while St. Thomas loses about 7 percent voltage.
The board approved the purchase of nine Cooper single phase pad mount regulators from Electric Supply of Tampa for $212,000, ultimately geared towards efficiency and dependable voltage levels.
The board also approved a contract with Fortress Electrical Contracting for $440,000 to install and terminate underground materials and equipment for the Main Street hazard mitigation project with a new feeder out of the Long Bay substation on St. Thomas.
As part of the project and the downtown revitalization, cables will be moved underground, creating a more reliable power source during hurricanes as well as reducing line loss.
St. Thomas manager for design and construction at WAPA Felix Rey said some of the materials are on-hand and others have been purchased, so the project could potentially begin in 90 days.
As a final measure against emergencies, the board approved two one-year contracts for emergency and supplemental labor at the Randolph Harley and Richmond Power Plants. The contract with ABC Concepts Inc. on St. Thomas is for $200,000, while Tang How Brothers Inc. on St. Croix has a contract for $350,000.
Both companies have previously worked with WAPA and Hodge said they will likely surpass the territory’s basic needs. He explained that the supplemental work will come into play when activity at WAPA peaks and they do not have the resources they need.
New officers were elected at the close of the meeting including attorney Gerald Groner as chairman, Juanita Young as vice chairwoman and Noel Loftus continuing as secretary.
In other business, the board:
- Reviewed a financial report through May 2012 that needs to be completed for Fiscal Year 2012;
- Approved an additional scope of work and funding for the Whim Waterline Rehabilitation Project totaling $2.2 million. The project will ultimately improve the water quality for customers in that area;
- Approved a request from new Chief Financial Officer Julio Rhymer to authorize management to extend a contract with professional services organization Ernst and Young for an independent audit of WAPA’s financial statements for FY 2012. The one-year contract extension will cost an additional $320,000;
- Approved a change in the final completion date for the St. Croix unit 11 steam turbine and generator major repairs project to July 5. The project was supposed to be finished by March 31, but was completed May 26;
- Approved the renewal of the Cigna Healthcare insurance policy as reviewed by WAPA Director of Human Resources Denise Nibbs. WAPA will continue to pay 100 percent of costs for current and retired employees for a total of $4.1 million. Funding from Cigna also increased to $20,000;
- Approved a motion to make the new chief financial officer signatory on all bank accounts and to remove the former CFO.