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WAPA Board Authorizes Midland Substation Equipment Purchase

The V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board on Thursday authorized the purchase of $2.76 million in heavy equipment for the planned Midland Substation on St. Croix.

During its regular monthly board meeting on St. Croix, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said the substation will ultimately make the St. Croix grid more efficient and more reliable. Hodge said it is needed to allow solar power production that is currently in the works to come onto the grid.

WAPA plans to purchase two 69/25 KV three-phase, two-winding power transformers at a cost of up to $1.9 million and a 25kV switchgear at up to $856,000. Buying these items brings the price tag of the first phase of the project, including the design and construction of the substation, to a total of $6.5 million.

Clinton Hedrington, WAPA’s director of transmission and distribution, said the purchase should be made now, rather than later in the project, because "you are seeing large increases in the price of materials like copper."

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"The price is going up and not coming back, so we need to go ahead and lock it in now and make sure there is not a delay," Hedrington said.

The board also voted to authorize payment of $259,000 to ABC Concepts for unscheduled supplemental maintenance, bringing the total contract amount with ABC Concepts to $459,000.

It also approved a change to a contract with Bryan’s Electrical Corp, extending its deadline on work on underground power at Market Square by 220 days and increasing funding by $20,000 because of an increase in the scope of work.

The board also approved using $2,900 remaining from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grant to install erosion mats in a swale by the base of WAPA’s large water tank at Estate Richmond on St. Croix.

After going into executive session, the board returned to open session and approved a 10-year financial forecast confirming WAPA’s credit-worthiness. The forecast is a requirement by Rural Utility Services as part of a loan request for the advanced metering infrastructure project that has been in the development process for two years.

When done, the changes will allow WAPA to implement meter reading from the office, reduce meter tampering, quickly identify faults in the system and lay the communications ground work for a smart grid to allow customers to control costs by monitoring real time energy usage in their homes and businesses, according to WAPA.

The board also authorized the authority to borrow $15 million to complete the project with a guaranteed RUS loan at a 3 to 4 percent rate of interest. The loan period will be for 20 years and will incur a net present value savings of $30 million for customers, WAPA said.

In other business, the board approved several contract extensions and lease renewals. It voted to extend:
– a contract with Ambient Technologies for maintenance of its legacy Israeli IDE water desalination units to continue maintenance until reverse osmosis units under construction come online. The contract was extended to Dec. 31 on St. Croix and June 30 on St. Thomas at a cost of $1.02 per thousand gallons produced.
– the deadline for work installing 69 kV terminations on the transmission line from St. Croix’s Richmond Substation to the Midland Substation. Hedrington said the delay, which does not involve any cost increase, was partly because WAPA is awaiting bonding link boxes for five manhole installations.
– a contract with Fortress Electric to June 29 for installing underground electrical equipment as part of the St. Thomas Main Street Hazard Mitigation Project, and Feeder 6B out of the Long Bay substation on St. Thomas. The extension does not add to the $440,000 project.
– a contract with Island Roads to build electrical duct banks, manholes, pad foundations, switchgears and transformers for the Main Street Hazard Mitigation Project on St. Thomas to June 29. The extension does not add to the $1.3 million price tag for the project.

The board voted to renew:
– a one-year lease of a condominium on St. Croix for management who travel weekly to St. Croix, at a cost of $30,000. "The lease of a unit is much more cost effective compared to nightly hotel rates," Hodge said.
– a one-year lease extension for office space on St. Thomas in Estate Tarrenebeg, and for office operating expenses, at a cost of $15,450 per month and up to $3,000 per month for operating expenses.
– and a one year lease for office space at 171 Altona on St. Thomas at a cost of $8,400 per month.

All votes were unanimous.

Board members present were Gerald Groner, Noel Loftus, Wayne Biggs, Donald Francois and Alicia Barnes. Board members Karl Knight, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson and Juanita Young were absent.

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The V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board on Thursday authorized the purchase of $2.76 million in heavy equipment for the planned Midland Substation on St. Croix.

During its regular monthly board meeting on St. Croix, WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said the substation will ultimately make the St. Croix grid more efficient and more reliable. Hodge said it is needed to allow solar power production that is currently in the works to come onto the grid.

WAPA plans to purchase two 69/25 KV three-phase, two-winding power transformers at a cost of up to $1.9 million and a 25kV switchgear at up to $856,000. Buying these items brings the price tag of the first phase of the project, including the design and construction of the substation, to a total of $6.5 million.

Clinton Hedrington, WAPA’s director of transmission and distribution, said the purchase should be made now, rather than later in the project, because "you are seeing large increases in the price of materials like copper."

"The price is going up and not coming back, so we need to go ahead and lock it in now and make sure there is not a delay," Hedrington said.

The board also voted to authorize payment of $259,000 to ABC Concepts for unscheduled supplemental maintenance, bringing the total contract amount with ABC Concepts to $459,000.

It also approved a change to a contract with Bryan's Electrical Corp, extending its deadline on work on underground power at Market Square by 220 days and increasing funding by $20,000 because of an increase in the scope of work.

The board also approved using $2,900 remaining from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grant to install erosion mats in a swale by the base of WAPA's large water tank at Estate Richmond on St. Croix.

After going into executive session, the board returned to open session and approved a 10-year financial forecast confirming WAPA’s credit-worthiness. The forecast is a requirement by Rural Utility Services as part of a loan request for the advanced metering infrastructure project that has been in the development process for two years.

When done, the changes will allow WAPA to implement meter reading from the office, reduce meter tampering, quickly identify faults in the system and lay the communications ground work for a smart grid to allow customers to control costs by monitoring real time energy usage in their homes and businesses, according to WAPA.

The board also authorized the authority to borrow $15 million to complete the project with a guaranteed RUS loan at a 3 to 4 percent rate of interest. The loan period will be for 20 years and will incur a net present value savings of $30 million for customers, WAPA said.

In other business, the board approved several contract extensions and lease renewals. It voted to extend:
- a contract with Ambient Technologies for maintenance of its legacy Israeli IDE water desalination units to continue maintenance until reverse osmosis units under construction come online. The contract was extended to Dec. 31 on St. Croix and June 30 on St. Thomas at a cost of $1.02 per thousand gallons produced.
- the deadline for work installing 69 kV terminations on the transmission line from St. Croix's Richmond Substation to the Midland Substation. Hedrington said the delay, which does not involve any cost increase, was partly because WAPA is awaiting bonding link boxes for five manhole installations.
- a contract with Fortress Electric to June 29 for installing underground electrical equipment as part of the St. Thomas Main Street Hazard Mitigation Project, and Feeder 6B out of the Long Bay substation on St. Thomas. The extension does not add to the $440,000 project.
- a contract with Island Roads to build electrical duct banks, manholes, pad foundations, switchgears and transformers for the Main Street Hazard Mitigation Project on St. Thomas to June 29. The extension does not add to the $1.3 million price tag for the project.

The board voted to renew:
- a one-year lease of a condominium on St. Croix for management who travel weekly to St. Croix, at a cost of $30,000. "The lease of a unit is much more cost effective compared to nightly hotel rates," Hodge said.
- a one-year lease extension for office space on St. Thomas in Estate Tarrenebeg, and for office operating expenses, at a cost of $15,450 per month and up to $3,000 per month for operating expenses.
- and a one year lease for office space at 171 Altona on St. Thomas at a cost of $8,400 per month.

All votes were unanimous.

Board members present were Gerald Groner, Noel Loftus, Wayne Biggs, Donald Francois and Alicia Barnes. Board members Karl Knight, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson and Juanita Young were absent.