For the first time in years, the V.I. Water and Power Authority and the Public Services Commission’s consultants are on the same page: while more work needs to be done, WAPA has shown growth, improvement and is running more efficiently in both districts.
These statements were made Thursday night by Georgetown Consulting Group principal Larry Gawlick, who said that during the last year, WAPA has deployed its funds on St. Thomas-St. John in ways that has allowed the authority to do some much needed maintenance work and put in an emergency generator.
The funds have come through a refinancing mechanism, a small charge that was added to the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause to help fund improvements in WAPA’s efficiency. Years of deferred maintenance have led to WAPA’s power plants performing below optimum levels, which causes them to burn more fuel. But Gawlick said WAPA has also been able to purchase spare parts with the money, allowing for repairs that get WAPA’s units up and running, burning less fuel and operating better.
"What you will see here is an improvement in performance," Gawlick said as he went through an analysis at the PSC’s monthly board meeting on St. Thomas. "And we expect this quarter, from about August to September, is to see further improvement."
Gawlick also said WAPA has been producing power more efficiently on St. Croix and that Georgetown’s charts "reflect a trend that indicates increasing performance."
Georgetown’s analysis also addressed WAPA’s most recent LEAC rate filing, and Gawlick said that, after meeting with WAPA officials, he would be recommending a decrease in both electric and water LEAC rates.
The PSC approved the recommendations, which bring the electric LEAC down 1.9 percent to .402665 (which represents a drop of $3.99 for the average residential customer’s monthly bill) and the water LEAC down 6.45 percent to $12.30 (a drop of approximately $5.52 monthly for the average residential customer).
The new LEAC rates would be in effect from July 1 to September 30.
PSC members also approved other recommendations, which compel WAPA to detail reasons for LEAC rate changes in their filings and costs associated with improvements made with refinancing mechanism funds, among other things.
PSC Board Chairman M. Thomas Jackson said after the vote was taken, "There are a lot of people that are trying to make the commission, Georgetown and the authority a war zone, but it isn’t so – we’re all working together for the people and hope that this spirit of cooperation and collaboration will continue."
Board members present Thursday were M. Thomas Jackson, Sirri Hamad, Elsie V. Thomas-Trotman and Joseph San Martin.