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WAPA Projects Moving Towards Completion, Board Told

Breezing through the few action items on their monthly agenda, V.I. Water and Power Authority board members also got an update Thursday from utility officials on a number of capital projects that should be wrapping up this summer.
In his report to the board, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said the long-awaited heat recovery steam generator on St. Croix should be installed by the end of next month, pending a final phone call with the contractor Friday to iron out the schedule for the next six weeks. WAPA officials said the boiler will reduce the authority’s projected $116 million fiscal year 2010 fuel bill by 10 percent, and bring in $12 million in savings per year, depending on the cost of fuel.
Work on a new state-of-the-art substation at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas is also expected to finish up in the next month or so. The need for equipment upgrades at the plant prompted the construction of the new facility, which will be fully enclosed, Hodge explained after the meeting.
In a brief presentation to the board, WAPA electrical engineer Neil Vanterpool explained that the authority is also in the final stages of its Global Positioning System/Global Information System project on St. Croix, and has completed work on St. John, where an inventory of all the authority’s equipment — poles, meters and underground devices — has been logged. To finish the project on St. Croix, the board approved the release of an additional $450,000 to R.W. Beck, WAPA’s consultants on the project. Overall, work on St. John and St. Croix will cost $1.3 million, while work on St. Thomas — which should be completed in the next few months — totals $1.2 million.
Board members also approved Thursday a contract extension until the end of the year and an $80,000 budget increase for R.W. Beck, which also served as the authority’s chief consultant in the recent rate case before the Public Services Commission. The case was expected to wrap up in December but was fast-tracked and instead settled a few months earlier than expected, according to officials. The total cost of the contract is $260,000.
WAPA board member Donald Francois called for the authority to look at bringing in some new consultants on future projects, saying that R.W. Beck had been around "for over 35 years."
Hodge agreed.
"A fresh set of eyes wouldn’t be a bad thing," he said. "But in terms of the rate case, it would have been more expensive to bring in somebody else, because the last rate study was in the 1970’s and the only people that knew about it are actually some of the people at R.W. Beck."
Asked later by board members about the status of WAPA’s hurricane preparedness efforts, Hodge said the authority should have its fuel stores for all three islands in place by the end of next month. About 90,000 barrels of fuel have been purchased from Hovensa at last month’s rate, which amounts to a $10 savings per barrel — or $1 million overall — when compared to this month’s prices, he said.
The board also approved a new theft prevention policy intended to keep WAPA in compliance with federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act mandates. The act calls for utilities to present program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft on customer accounts.
In his monthly financial report to the Board, WAPA assistant Chief Financial Officer Maurice Sebastien said Ernst and Young will begin conducting the authority’s annual audit late next month. Preliminary numbers for June show that WAPA wrapped up its FY 2009 with a $5.5 million loss on the electric said and an approximately $1.8 million net loss on the water side.
Wrapping up the meeting, board members also re-elected Juanita Young as the board’s chairwoman, Brenda Benjamin as vice-chair and Noel Loftus as secretary.
Board members present during Thursday’s meeting were Francois, Kenneth Hermon, Loftus, Robert Mathes, St. Claire N. Williams and Young.

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Breezing through the few action items on their monthly agenda, V.I. Water and Power Authority board members also got an update Thursday from utility officials on a number of capital projects that should be wrapping up this summer.
In his report to the board, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said the long-awaited heat recovery steam generator on St. Croix should be installed by the end of next month, pending a final phone call with the contractor Friday to iron out the schedule for the next six weeks. WAPA officials said the boiler will reduce the authority's projected $116 million fiscal year 2010 fuel bill by 10 percent, and bring in $12 million in savings per year, depending on the cost of fuel.
Work on a new state-of-the-art substation at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas is also expected to finish up in the next month or so. The need for equipment upgrades at the plant prompted the construction of the new facility, which will be fully enclosed, Hodge explained after the meeting.
In a brief presentation to the board, WAPA electrical engineer Neil Vanterpool explained that the authority is also in the final stages of its Global Positioning System/Global Information System project on St. Croix, and has completed work on St. John, where an inventory of all the authority's equipment -- poles, meters and underground devices -- has been logged. To finish the project on St. Croix, the board approved the release of an additional $450,000 to R.W. Beck, WAPA's consultants on the project. Overall, work on St. John and St. Croix will cost $1.3 million, while work on St. Thomas -- which should be completed in the next few months -- totals $1.2 million.
Board members also approved Thursday a contract extension until the end of the year and an $80,000 budget increase for R.W. Beck, which also served as the authority's chief consultant in the recent rate case before the Public Services Commission. The case was expected to wrap up in December but was fast-tracked and instead settled a few months earlier than expected, according to officials. The total cost of the contract is $260,000.
WAPA board member Donald Francois called for the authority to look at bringing in some new consultants on future projects, saying that R.W. Beck had been around "for over 35 years."
Hodge agreed.
"A fresh set of eyes wouldn't be a bad thing," he said. "But in terms of the rate case, it would have been more expensive to bring in somebody else, because the last rate study was in the 1970's and the only people that knew about it are actually some of the people at R.W. Beck."
Asked later by board members about the status of WAPA's hurricane preparedness efforts, Hodge said the authority should have its fuel stores for all three islands in place by the end of next month. About 90,000 barrels of fuel have been purchased from Hovensa at last month's rate, which amounts to a $10 savings per barrel -- or $1 million overall -- when compared to this month's prices, he said.
The board also approved a new theft prevention policy intended to keep WAPA in compliance with federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act mandates. The act calls for utilities to present program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft on customer accounts.
In his monthly financial report to the Board, WAPA assistant Chief Financial Officer Maurice Sebastien said Ernst and Young will begin conducting the authority's annual audit late next month. Preliminary numbers for June show that WAPA wrapped up its FY 2009 with a $5.5 million loss on the electric said and an approximately $1.8 million net loss on the water side.
Wrapping up the meeting, board members also re-elected Juanita Young as the board's chairwoman, Brenda Benjamin as vice-chair and Noel Loftus as secretary.
Board members present during Thursday's meeting were Francois, Kenneth Hermon, Loftus, Robert Mathes, St. Claire N. Williams and Young.