The V.I. Water and Power Authority is asking for an increase on its base electric rate that amounts to four cents a kilowatt hour, or about $20 a month for the average customer, but no one from the public attended a Public Services Commission hearing Monday at the Legislature building on St. John.
Almost 20 people from the PSC and WAPA were there at 4 p.m. for the hearing. They had planned to stick around until 7:30 p.m., but WAPA representative Cassandra Dunn said they gave up at 6:45 p.m.
The PSC held a similar hearing Sept. 6 on St. Thomas that was slightly better attended.
“One person showed up,” PSC attorney Boyd Sprehn said.
The PSC will hold a similar hearing from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Curriculum Center on St. Croix.
Sprehn said it was the same story for hearings on water rate increases held a few weeks ago.
He said that the last time they had a hearing on St. John, it ran from 4 to 6 p.m. but no one came to testify. He said that at the request of some senators, they planned to extend the time to 7:30 p.m. to give people more time to arrive.
While passing the time waiting in case someone showed up, WAPA Director Hugo Hodge Jr. sat down for an impromptu interview with the Source to discuss WAPA’s ability to meet St. John’s electrical needs in light of the island’s rapid increase in the number of vacation villas.
“We don’t have a capacity problem. We can meet the needs,” he said.
However, he said that running air conditioners that cool entire houses or even just the bedrooms is not sustainable as a community because of environmental impacts from the use of fossil fuels.
He also noted that WAPA will never be able to reduce its rates to stateside levels because of “economies of scale.” He said WAPA has a total of about 54,000 electrical customers across the territory, with about 5,000 of those on St. John.