Dear Governor: The load on your plate is enormous. There is no real tourism season ahead compared to previous years because of what is still euphemistically referred to as an economic "recession" but is in reality a "depression" except that nobody wants to use that dirty word.
Everybody is scrambling for a salvage. Unemployment in the US has reached an incredible high. Wall Street is a total mess, the auto makers are going down the tubes but expect a multimillion dollar bailout from the Federal government. There is no end in sight and bailouts are only a panacea. The recent Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bailouts have already been deemed by renowned financial experts as an incredibly expensive but futile exercise.
There is one bailout or major turnover that's seriously needed in the Virgin Islands and that's WAPA. In the almost 25 years I've been a proud resident of the US Virgin Islands I've seen the WAPA entity basically improve not one whit. Power outages were quite common when I first moved here in 1984 and although there was a little bit of improvement in the next few years, hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn really tested their operation.
South East in Georgia made an offer to purchase WAPA after Hurricane Marilyn. As I recall, they guaranteed that they would update the equipment to ensure fuel efficiency and that electricity rates would not go up for five years. The Legislature eventually shot down the whole deal after many WAPA employees became concerned that they would lose their jobs. I don't recall that there was any reason under the agreement for any WAPA employee to lose his or her job except that, if you were an employee not doing your job in accordance with normal business practices then maybe you'll have problems keeping it?
Apart from the devastating 34 hour WAPA outage right before Thanksgiving, there was an hour's outage on Monday December 1, an outage on December 2 of 10 minutes at 9:50AM and another one today of 10 minutes at 9:50AM. Were these last two brief outages scheduled for whatever reason? Nothing has been posted on the WAPA website since November 26th and, when I called on December 2, the WAPA rep I spoke to said she had no knowledge about any outage and thus couldn't answer my question about its duration.
These outages severely test our basic appliances even when we have them plugged into surge protectors. Not all of us have standby generators, because not all of us can afford them.
WAPA has become a real joke and time is of the essence. A bailout is probably not a good deal for any of us where WAPA is concerned but something needs to give where that entity is concerned. Changes should have been implemented two decades ago when it was obvious that the generators simply couldn't keep up with rampant development and the added demand continued to overtax what are antediluvian fixtures.
In my opinion a moratorium should be implemented right now where any future major development is concerned on all islands until we can get the power problems resolved and get WAPA into the 21st century. As long as we maintain the status quo (which simply doesn't work) of fixing and patching, nothing will change and the islands will remain in the late 20th century ad nausea. Small businesses will go down the tubes which is already happening.
The big development proposal bucks continue to roll in. All that money is so very tempting and sounds so somehow "wholesome," when local jobs are promised. Sounds good on paper. The kickbacks are very tempting. $300K plus for a signature is most tempting to many.
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