June 15, 2004 – The Water and Power Authority met Monday's deadline imposed by Hovensa for the utility to pay the oil refinery $3.4 million in delinquent fuel costs.
Hovensa had threatened that if payment was not received by Monday, the delivery of fuel supplies to the utility would be cut off. (See "V.I. Debt Blamed for WAPA's Inability to Pay Hovensa".) However, WAPA owes the refinery another $500,000 that is due on Friday.
In an emergency meeting last Thursday, the WAPA board authorized its executive director, Alberto Bruno-Vega, to borrow up to $5.6 million on a line of credit from two local banks — Banco Popular and FirstBank — to pay Hovensa.
Bruno-Vega said on Tuesday that the authority has up to five years to repay the loan at a 4 percent interest rate. "This is an unfair burden placed on WAPA," he said.
The government's outstanding account receivables of some $15 million and the underbilling of consumers for fuel costs are the main reasons the utility was unable to meet its financial obligations, Bruno-Vega has said.
The WAPA governing board has formed a committee to deal with the government's account receivables, he said, and it is corresponding with the governor.
WAPA has asked Sen. Adlah Donastorg, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, to have the Legislature appropriate $15 million to pay the government's water and power bills. "The current budget cannot be used to pay previous bills," Bruno-Vega said.
Bruno-Vega also has asked that utility payments be line-item components of the fiscal year 2005 budgets so the money cannot be used for any purposes.
And he has asked the Public Services Commission to authorize automatic monthly adjustments in WAPA's fuel surcharge based on changed in the market price for oil.
"This would allow us to recoup monthly from the customers depending on the fluctuations in the oil market," Bruno-Vega said. "I hope these actions we're taking with the cooperation of the government would help out our financial situation."
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