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Turnbull Signs Changes to Job Creation Act

Sept. 20, 2005 — Gov. Charles W. Turnbull on Friday signed into law changes to the controversial Job Creation Act of 2005.
These amendments allow the Water and Power Authority to — among other things — solicit bids from small power providers not dependent on high-cost fuel to generate power.
The amendments also:
— changed the bill's original requirements that 400 jobs be created and $150 million be initially invested in the St. Croix community by a selected small power provider over a period of four years. The job requirement now commits the provider to maintaining a workforce in which 90 percent of permanent, full-time positions be given to residents of the Virgin Islands. The $150 million investment has been reduced to $20 million.
— state that small power providers no longer have to be certified by the Public Services Commission prior to negotiating a purchase agreement with WAPA. However, the successful bidder must be certified by the PSC before a contract is signed.
— require a $150,000 reinvestment into the territory by the provider for economic stimulus. This would give money to programs on St. Croix for public schools, the homeless and low income housing residents (see "Amendment to Energy Bill Generating Heat").
The original bill, first introduced by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste in September 2004, was vetoed by Turnbull in November 2004 because it was thought to be "special legislation" tailored to suit the needs of one small power provider — Caribbean Energy Resources Corp., which proposed to generate power through petroleum coke, a fuel derivative.
The Legislature overrode Turnbull's veto in May (see "Senate Approves Economic Stimulus Bill").
"This caused a chaotic situation," Turnbull said in a press release circulated by Government House on Tuesday. "However, members of the 26th Legislature have realized their error, and with these amendments, they have corrected it," (see "Senate Passes Amendments to Energy Bill").
The release also quoted Turnbull as saying many of the problems facing the government today are caused by the Legislature overriding gubernatorial vetoes. As a result, Turnbull asked that senators refrain from any more "willy-nilly overrides."
Now that the amendments have passed, WAPA has 90 days to send out new requests for proposals to small power producers offering alternative or renewable energy resources. Once those bid packages have been received, WAPA has to review all proposals, and submit their final choice to the PSC for approval.

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