Feb. 18, 2009 — The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority is pushing for another reduction in Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC) rates: about 27.4 percent on the electric side and about 2 percent on the water side, WAPA executive director Hugo Hodge Jr. told board members Wednesday.
If approved next week by the Public Services Commission, the reduction will be effective April 1. WAPA's petition pushes the electric LEAC down from the current $0.211661 per kilowatt hour to $0.159464. The bill for the average residential customer would drop by 17.6 percent, from $148 to $122, while average commercial customers would see a 16.1 percent decrease, taking their monthly bills from $421 to $353. Large power customers using more than 40,000 kilowatt hours will see an 18.6 percent decrease, which would drop the power bill from $11,199 to $9,111.
Though Wednesday's meeting was short, WAPA board members moved quickly through two funding requests that would help cover the cost of repairing the St. Thomas waste heat recovery boiler, and supplying some start up money for a pilot project designed to reduce line losses throughout the territory.
The waste heat recovery boiler is up and running, but extra money was needed to pay for some "unforeseen" repairs that were discovered when the unit was opened, according to Hodge. The additional $483,353.28 needed to pay the vendor is being reprogrammed from an existing fuel tank floor replacement project. Board members unanimously approved the request.
WAPA engineers laid out plans to reduce line losses in both districts through a new Global Positioning System Inventory and Global Information System project. Using state-of-the-art technology, WAPA will be able to tag and locate every piece of equipment in its system, then superimpose the data on geographical maps of the territory. Using the real-time data, WAPA would be able to quickly assess damage to its system after natural disasters, monitor substations and see how its electric system is affected by different levels of power consumption, among other things.
The board unanimously voted to reprogram $750,000 from two existing capital projects to R.W. Beck, which will help launch the pilot project on St. John and a portion of St. Croix. Once the system is tested, engineers will have a better idea of how effective it is and whether it needs it be "tweaked," according to WAPA engineers Allyson Gregory and Neil Vanterpool. The goal is to reduce line loss by 6.74 percent territory-wide once the project gets up and running, they said.
The $750,000 will be taken out of money earmarked for two undergrounding projects on St. Croix. Alternate funding for the projects has already been secured, Hodge said.
The board also gave Hodge the go-ahead to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the V.I. Housing Finance Authority (VIHFA) for the construction of a new WAPA headquarters across the street from the Crown Bay marine terminal on St. Thomas. VIHFA would help to design and engineer a portion of the building, then help to finance the project in exchange for a long-term lease, according to Nellon Bowry, WAPA chief financial officer.
Board members said they were concerned that the memorandum, in its present form, was too vague, and asked that the final agreement come back to the board for approval. Funding figures — specifically how much WAPA would have to spend on the joint project — and other terms and conditions would have to be nailed down before the agreement could be executed, they said.
Board members present during Wednesday's meeting were Brenda Benjamin, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, Donald Francois, Gerald Groner, Noel Loftus, DPNR Commissioner Robert Mathes, Juanita Young and Housing, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Sinclair Williams.
Division of Personnel Director Kenneth Hermon was absent.
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