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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesLT. GOV. STILL OPPOSED TO WAPA DEAL

LT. GOV. STILL OPPOSED TO WAPA DEAL

A day after the Turnbull administration was on St. Croix touting the proposed privatization of the Water and Power Authority, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II again stated his opposition to the plan.
While he is calling the deal a partnership rather than a sale, Gov. Charles Turnbull has said he is in favor of Atlanta-based Southern Energy controlling 80 percent of WAPA. The 25-year deal, including WAPA and government debt forgiveness, is worth more than $350 million. The deal, if approved by the Legislature, would infuse approximately $105 million into government coffers.
James noted that he and Turnbull had pledged not to sell the utility in their 1998 campaign. Because of that position he said, he does not support the deal. Rather, James said voters should make the decision through a referendum.
"The people elected us on the basis we would not sell WAPA," James said in a statement Tuesday. "Now it is up to the people to let us know whether they want us to rethink our position and consider a sale."
Turnbull and the administration’s consultants have said that through its 20 percent share in the new utility – Virgin Islands Electric and Water – the government will retain veto power over most decisions. But James expressed skepticism about the proposed structure of VIEW.
"In Business 101, one principle we learned was that within any partnership, anyone holding more than 50 percent interest would always be the controlling partner," James said.
The proposed deal still has three major hurdles to clear: whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the costs of damage the new utility may sustain from a natural disaster; whether HOVENSA will extend the discounts it now gives to government-owned WAPA on fuel oil to the proposed VIEW; and whether the Government Employees Retirement System will take in the employees of the new utility.
James said he hopes the Senate will give the issue a detailed review.
"I am certain that the legislative body will do the right thing by allowing this matter to go to public hearings in an attempt to get the opinions of the employees of WAPA along with the citizens of the territory."

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A day after the Turnbull administration was on St. Croix touting the proposed privatization of the Water and Power Authority, Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II again stated his opposition to the plan.
While he is calling the deal a partnership rather than a sale, Gov. Charles Turnbull has said he is in favor of Atlanta-based Southern Energy controlling 80 percent of WAPA. The 25-year deal, including WAPA and government debt forgiveness, is worth more than $350 million. The deal, if approved by the Legislature, would infuse approximately $105 million into government coffers.
James noted that he and Turnbull had pledged not to sell the utility in their 1998 campaign. Because of that position he said, he does not support the deal. Rather, James said voters should make the decision through a referendum.
"The people elected us on the basis we would not sell WAPA," James said in a statement Tuesday. "Now it is up to the people to let us know whether they want us to rethink our position and consider a sale."
Turnbull and the administration’s consultants have said that through its 20 percent share in the new utility – Virgin Islands Electric and Water – the government will retain veto power over most decisions. But James expressed skepticism about the proposed structure of VIEW.
"In Business 101, one principle we learned was that within any partnership, anyone holding more than 50 percent interest would always be the controlling partner," James said.
The proposed deal still has three major hurdles to clear: whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the costs of damage the new utility may sustain from a natural disaster; whether HOVENSA will extend the discounts it now gives to government-owned WAPA on fuel oil to the proposed VIEW; and whether the Government Employees Retirement System will take in the employees of the new utility.
James said he hopes the Senate will give the issue a detailed review.
"I am certain that the legislative body will do the right thing by allowing this matter to go to public hearings in an attempt to get the opinions of the employees of WAPA along with the citizens of the territory."