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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, May 21, 2024


Southern Energy officials were on St. Croix again Tuesday, this time touting the benefits to the island and to businesses owned by women if the V.I. Water and Power Authority becomes a partnership between the company and the government.
The Virgin Islands Women's Business Center hosted company officials, although its director, Yvette deLaubanque, said that should not be read as an endorsement of the proposal, which that would see 80 percent of WAPA acquired by Southern.
On hand to explain how small minority- and women-owned businesses would benefit from the company’s mainland operations were executives from Georgia Power, a subsidiary of Southern, that supplies electricity in a half-dozen Southern states. Harold Cain, manager of supply and development for Georgia Power, said the company has a program on the mainland that purchases services and supplies from locally owned businesses, such as janitorial, safety and office equipment.
In addition, he said, a mentorship program, similar to one that now exists, would be formed to assist vendors who want to do business with the new WAPA, which would be called V.I. Electric and Water, or VIEW.
"These are some of the things VIEW will be looking for…" Cain said. "These are things we want to mimic in the Virgin Islands."
As part of the proposed partnership deal, Southern is also offering a $1 million line of credit at local banks as security for loans to locally owned businesses.
Dave Dunbar, Southern Energy’s project director, said that while the promise to set up a $1 million economic development program is somewhat self-serving, it would also benefit the entire territory by stimulating new business and generating more tax revenue.
"We want to stimulate business in the territory," Dunbar said. "We won’t make our projections if there isn’t growth."

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