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HomeNewsArchives3 ASPECTS OF LIGHTING BILL WORRISOME TO WAPA

3 ASPECTS OF LIGHTING BILL WORRISOME TO WAPA

Dec. 14, 2001 – The Water and Power Authority's chief executive let the Legislature and the community know Friday that he is "concerned about the method employed" by the lawmakers to transfer responsibility for maintaining the territory's streetlights to WAPA from the Public Works Department.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted for the transfer and appropriated $2.78 million to cover start-up costs. The bill that was passed does not address ongoing funding. Separate legislation to do that is currently in the Government Operations Committee.
WAPA chief Joseph Thomas said in a release Friday that the bill passed Wednesday fails to address three fundamental concerns of the utility — the funding, liability and start-up timing.
"As it appears now, the moment the governor signs the bill, the responsibility for lights goes to WAPA," Thomas said. He said the utility had asked for a six-month "preparation period." The time is needed, he said, in order for WAPA "to acquire equipment, purchase inventory, hire and train personnel."
Nor does the bill provide the limited liability coverage WAPA asked for, Thomas said, and so the utility also needs time "to purchase the necessary insurance." Not having it "places electric and water customers and bondholders at unnecessary financial exposure" from possible legal action, he said, but having to pay for the insurance itself means the utility will have less money to spend on "setting up a viable business" in street lighting.
As far as the ongoing funding, Thomas reiterated his stand that money for street lighting should come from a surcharge of $1.80 on monthly residential electric bills. The Senate Finance Committee rejected that idea and spun the funding issue off into the separate bill, which at the moment provides for annual legislative appropriations as the source of funding.
At the end of the release, Thomas responded with conciliation and civility to Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste's reference to WAPA on the Senate floor Wednesday as "a wild beast that needs to be tamed." The utility chief executive said, "Our relationships with our customers and the Legislature are important to us. We are interested in improving our service and welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with the senator."
Saying he understand "that the majority bloc of the Legislature may be meeting with the governor soon on appropriations," Thomas added, "We hope that these issues can be addressed before he signs the bill." Failing that, he said, WAPA may ask Turnbull to veto it.

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Dec. 14, 2001 - The Water and Power Authority's chief executive let the Legislature and the community know Friday that he is "concerned about the method employed" by the lawmakers to transfer responsibility for maintaining the territory's streetlights to WAPA from the Public Works Department.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted for the transfer and appropriated $2.78 million to cover start-up costs. The bill that was passed does not address ongoing funding. Separate legislation to do that is currently in the Government Operations Committee.
WAPA chief Joseph Thomas said in a release Friday that the bill passed Wednesday fails to address three fundamental concerns of the utility -- the funding, liability and start-up timing.
"As it appears now, the moment the governor signs the bill, the responsibility for lights goes to WAPA," Thomas said. He said the utility had asked for a six-month "preparation period." The time is needed, he said, in order for WAPA "to acquire equipment, purchase inventory, hire and train personnel."
Nor does the bill provide the limited liability coverage WAPA asked for, Thomas said, and so the utility also needs time "to purchase the necessary insurance." Not having it "places electric and water customers and bondholders at unnecessary financial exposure" from possible legal action, he said, but having to pay for the insurance itself means the utility will have less money to spend on "setting up a viable business" in street lighting.
As far as the ongoing funding, Thomas reiterated his stand that money for street lighting should come from a surcharge of $1.80 on monthly residential electric bills. The Senate Finance Committee rejected that idea and spun the funding issue off into the separate bill, which at the moment provides for annual legislative appropriations as the source of funding.
At the end of the release, Thomas responded with conciliation and civility to Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste's reference to WAPA on the Senate floor Wednesday as "a wild beast that needs to be tamed." The utility chief executive said, "Our relationships with our customers and the Legislature are important to us. We are interested in improving our service and welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with the senator."
Saying he understand "that the majority bloc of the Legislature may be meeting with the governor soon on appropriations," Thomas added, "We hope that these issues can be addressed before he signs the bill." Failing that, he said, WAPA may ask Turnbull to veto it.