Solar panels powering 50 new LED lamps began lighting the Christiansted boardwalk in May, the last major project administrated by the V.I Energy Office with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The lamps emitting diode lights and solar panels were assembled by Eco Innovations VI, of St. Croix, and installed by Benton Construction Company of St. Croix. The total cost of the project was $360,000, according to a news release from the Energy Office.
Over three-fourths of the old lights on the boardwalk were not working, according to the news release from Don Buchanan, media information specialist at the Energy Office. The LEDs will use about a third of the power that the old lights used and the electricity will come from the solar panels.
“The boardwalk lighting project is special because it brings light, with renewable energy, to an area that is attractive to both residents and tourists in the Virgin Islands," Buchanan said. "However, we should point out that this is just one project in a series of projects where the Virgin Islands government has been able to use funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to cut the territory’s dependency on fossil fuel and cut its electricity bill.”
“We still have a way to go to reach our goal of cutting our fossil fuel consumption 60 per cent by 2025, but projects like this bring us one step closer,” he said.
The total amount of ARRA funds administered through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant by the Energy Office was $9,593,000. The Energy Office granted $965,000 to Department of Public Works, which used part of those funds last year to change the traffic lights in the territory to LEDs.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority also turned to highly efficient LED lights when spending $2.5 million granted to it by the Energy Office, according to Buchanan. Its street lighting upgrade two years ago involved replacing 972 high pressure sodium street lights with LED street lights to reduce power consumption. Each LED streetlight uses less than half of the power of the light it replaces.
WAPA also implemented the Street Light Management System, which notifies WAPA of any street lights that are on during the day and allows them to turn the light off remotely. The system also provides notification of any lights that are not working at night and graphically shows where the failed light is. This allows repair crews to go directly to the failed light and not have to drive around at night looking for failed lights.
The Virgin Islands Port Authority was awarded $2.9 million in ARRA funds administered by the Energy Office. The VIPA project was the installation of a solar panel system to reduce the energy bills at the Cyril E. King airport. The system, which generates 452 kilowatts and connected to WAPA for net-metering, was completed late in 2011. The array is ground mounted and made up of more than 1,800 photo voltaic panels. The system is working and providing even more energy savings than had been projected.
The Waste Management Authority was awarded $3 million from the ARRA programs administered by the V.I. Energy Office. The money was used to install a landfill gas-to-energy system at the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas. The methane gas that is collected is used to power an 815-kilowatt generator. The VIWMA will be compensated for the power fed into the grid through a Power Purchase Agreement with WAPA and those funds will be used to help pay the electrical bills from other VIWMA facilities. A second generator will be installed in the future once the landfill is fully capped and there is additional methane available.
“The Energy Office is proud of the success of these projects, but we know it could not have happened if not for the hard work of our partners – Waste Management, WAPA, Public Works and the Port Authority," Buchanan said.
The Virgin Islands Energy Office is a division of the Office of the Governor.