Contracts approved during the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s board meeting Thursday will help bring in some extra manpower for the utility during emergency situations.
Board members approved a contract to GEC LLC to do emergency and supplemental maintenance to the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix, at a cost not to exceed $250,000, along with a contract for Rock Fuel Express to do similar work at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas.
Board members said only GEC LLC bid for the work on St. Croix, while Rock Fuel Express was selected out of the two companies that bid for St. Thomas. Both companies will be providing manpower and other technical services needed to supplement WAPA’s workforce, along with resources needed on an emergency basis to keep the plants’ generating facilities fully operational.
Board members also approved the purchase of volume licensing for Microsoft products from Soft Mart, the regional distributor for Microsoft products. In the past, WAPA has been using software from the government to run its systems, but board members said that this way, they will be able to get the latest software updates in time, along with better technical support and greater security.
The annual cost is $205,805, for a three-year total of $617,416.
WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. also announced during the meeting that he would be signing off on a notification of a $594,820 two-year grant award from the U.S. Interior Department to help the authority implement its Energy Service Business Unit, which Hodge hopes will push customers to use WAPA’s website more often.
Hodge explained that oftentimes the authority’s customer service staff is tied up dealing with issues that could be routinely taken care of on the website, such as paying bills. Hodge said he spent time talking to customers about their needs while standing in the payment lines, and hopes that this effort will help reduce the burden on his staff.
The Energy Service Business Unit will also help customers implement energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects. Hodge said the funding should be available next month, allowing the authority to start off with its commercial customers, and then go public, visiting those who have signed up for the service. Hodge said he already has 10-20 employees trained to do energy audits that will help show customers the best ways to reduce their monthly bill.
The WAPA board also announced the start of a new program, called "WAPA Working for You," where various employees introduce themselves and discuss the work that they do. Kevin Harrigan, the instrumentation and control system analyst at the Harley Power Plant, kicked off the program Thursday with a presentation to the board. Harrigan has worked for WAPA for the last five years, beginning as a lineman apprentice.
Board members attending the meeting were: Wayne Biggs, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, Gerald Groner, Karl Knight, Noel Loftus and Juanita Young.