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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesFORUM ANNOUNCED DAY BEFORE ATTRACTS 2

FORUM ANNOUNCED DAY BEFORE ATTRACTS 2

Representatives of the Turnbull administration and of Southern Energy, the Atlanta-based company proposing to purchase 80 percent of the Water and Power Authority, traveled to St. John for a public meeting Sunday afternoon, taking with them promises and reassurances about the deal.
Two St. John residents turned out to hear what they had to say — Dr. Elizabeth Barot and Leslie Smith, a WAPA employee.
The V.I. Democratic Committee had announced the meeting on Saturday morning via calls to radio stations. The information was posted later Saturday on the Source. It also appeared as a "Brief" report in the V.I. Independent, the only print newspaper serving St. John that is published on Sundays.
Rudolph Krigger Sr., special financial assistant to Gov. Charles Turnbull, said the forum, held in the Legislature Building conference room, and evening sessions scheduled on St. Thomas Monday and on St. Croix Tuesday were born of an agreement between the governor and the Democratic Committee. The governor is a Democrat.
"The goal is to provide the information to members of the Democratic Party and the general public," Krigger said. "It's to keep the governor's commitment to the Territorial Committee, which was made a couple of weeks ago, as to the merits of the proposal."
On March 14, at the third press conference of his 14 months in office, Turnbull stated: "Before I make a final determination as to whether or not I will send this document to the Legislature, I am committed to having a full public airing of the details of this proposed partnership agreement through the various civic and community organizations for their input."
Last Wednesday the governor met behind closed doors to present the negotiated purchase package to members of the Legislature. On Friday, Southern Energy released the findings of a poll it had commissioned earlier, reporting results that indicate widespread public support for the planned "joint venture."
Under the negotiated deal, the government would retain 20 percent ownership in the utility consisting of the electricity distribution system — the lines and polls — so that WAPA could still qualify for public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the event of a major disaster such as another hurricane. Southern Energy said the deal is contingent on receiving reasurrances from FEMA that this would be the case.
At Sunday's meeting, David Dunbar of Southern Energy and Johan van't Hof of PricewaterhouseCooper Securities, a member of the governor's task force, went over details of the plan, the result of five months of negotiations.
A printed "vision statement" introduced those present to the utility under its proposed new name — Virgin Islands Electricity and Water. Among the promises made in that statement were a reduced the government payroll, improved billing and collection services, redeployment of government capital, expanded job opportunities and job security for WAPA union workers.
"I think there's a lot of potential," Barot said after the meeting. "I was asking them about the future of the employees there, and they said they would have a lot of job opportunities, and that's a plus for the people of the Virgin Islands."
Krigger expressed disappointment at the Sunday turnout but said he hoped public interest would motivate more people to attend the public hearings the Democratic Committee is sponsoring on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The St. Thomas meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Palms Court Harbourview Hotel.
The St. Croix meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mid-Lands Restaurant.

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Representatives of the Turnbull administration and of Southern Energy, the Atlanta-based company proposing to purchase 80 percent of the Water and Power Authority, traveled to St. John for a public meeting Sunday afternoon, taking with them promises and reassurances about the deal.
Two St. John residents turned out to hear what they had to say -- Dr. Elizabeth Barot and Leslie Smith, a WAPA employee.
The V.I. Democratic Committee had announced the meeting on Saturday morning via calls to radio stations. The information was posted later Saturday on the Source. It also appeared as a "Brief" report in the V.I. Independent, the only print newspaper serving St. John that is published on Sundays.
Rudolph Krigger Sr., special financial assistant to Gov. Charles Turnbull, said the forum, held in the Legislature Building conference room, and evening sessions scheduled on St. Thomas Monday and on St. Croix Tuesday were born of an agreement between the governor and the Democratic Committee. The governor is a Democrat.
"The goal is to provide the information to members of the Democratic Party and the general public," Krigger said. "It's to keep the governor's commitment to the Territorial Committee, which was made a couple of weeks ago, as to the merits of the proposal."
On March 14, at the third press conference of his 14 months in office, Turnbull stated: "Before I make a final determination as to whether or not I will send this document to the Legislature, I am committed to having a full public airing of the details of this proposed partnership agreement through the various civic and community organizations for their input."
Last Wednesday the governor met behind closed doors to present the negotiated purchase package to members of the Legislature. On Friday, Southern Energy released the findings of a poll it had commissioned earlier, reporting results that indicate widespread public support for the planned "joint venture."
Under the negotiated deal, the government would retain 20 percent ownership in the utility consisting of the electricity distribution system -- the lines and polls -- so that WAPA could still qualify for public assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the event of a major disaster such as another hurricane. Southern Energy said the deal is contingent on receiving reasurrances from FEMA that this would be the case.
At Sunday's meeting, David Dunbar of Southern Energy and Johan van't Hof of PricewaterhouseCooper Securities, a member of the governor's task force, went over details of the plan, the result of five months of negotiations.
A printed "vision statement" introduced those present to the utility under its proposed new name -- Virgin Islands Electricity and Water. Among the promises made in that statement were a reduced the government payroll, improved billing and collection services, redeployment of government capital, expanded job opportunities and job security for WAPA union workers.
"I think there's a lot of potential," Barot said after the meeting. "I was asking them about the future of the employees there, and they said they would have a lot of job opportunities, and that's a plus for the people of the Virgin Islands."
Krigger expressed disappointment at the Sunday turnout but said he hoped public interest would motivate more people to attend the public hearings the Democratic Committee is sponsoring on St. Thomas and St. Croix.
The St. Thomas meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Palms Court Harbourview Hotel.
The St. Croix meeting is at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Mid-Lands Restaurant.