In a meeting Thursday with nine action items on the agenda, the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s governing board spent most of its time redirecting funds and extending various ongoing projects.
The board approved a decision to divert $350,000 in internal funds from its Feeder 2 Express cable installation to the Christiansted Downtown Underground Decorative Street Light Project.
The goal of the project is to remove overhead streetlights and replace them with efficient 80-watt decorative Light Emitting Diode (LED) streetlights, said Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr.
He said the streetlights would be powered by the new underground electric infrastructure and that the conversion to LED lights would provide yearly savings from energy and maintenance costs.
Hodge said WAPA is contributing $1.8 million to the underground streetlight project. The total project costs $3.1 million, said Jerain Fleming, WAPA spokesperson.
The underground streetlight project will provide downtown Christiansted with improved aesthetics, WAPA Chairman Gerald Groner said.
“If you travel to any historic town in Europe you rarely see overhead wires,” Groner said.
Dexter Hypolite, an engineer, said WAPA would work with the St. Croix Historical Society to preserve the historical significance of the area.
Hodge said he expects the project to be finished by the summer of 2014.
The board also approved the purchase of two new digger derrick pole trucks at a cost of $584,000 and authorized amending its construction agreement with Dashiell Corporation. The board amended the project scope for Dashiell Corp. to include an area for housing different pole sizes, transformers and a storage shed for the line department.
This work is meant to reduce outage response time while increasing outage efficiency with faster material delivery to job sites on the western portion of St. Croix. The cost of the project will come from almost $375,000 in credits the contractor owes WAPA, said WAPA Chief Operating Officer Gregory Rhymer.
The board approved these various project extensions:
– a 20-day extension for a project designed to construct the water line to service a large group of potential customers on the East End of St. Thomas;
-a 36-day extension of the Anna’s Retreat waterline project;
-and a 57-day extension to a project designed to add five additional days of water storage capacity to St. John residents.
Mustafa Abusaoud, WAPA project manager, claimed the Anna’s Retreat waterline project was delayed by rock excavation, rain delays, and delays with pipe and fitting manufacturers. He said the rock they encountered was “fragile” but that the project needed extra time and not extra money.
The board also approved an extension of time to allow GE International to complete mechanical and electrical checks on Unit 11’s steam turbine and generator by Jan. 31, 2014. The cost of this project is $768,000.
Rhymer said these changes are a “move in the right direction” towards more efficiency. Groner said an increase in efficiency means more affordable rates which is always “of significance to the rate payer.”
The board awarded a contract to IDE Technologies to provide technical support to repair, clean and properly lay up four MED plants on St. Thomas and St. Croix. The plants are backups that can produce water in case the reverse osmosis plants are unavailable.
The crew work cannot work in excess of 40 hours per week or more than six months from the start of the $200,000 contract.
“It’s basically an on-call situation,” Rhymer said.
Hodge asked the board to celebrate the retirement of Cassandra Dunn, director of corporate communications. Dunn has been an employee with WAPA for 23 years. The board gave her a standing ovation after Hodge asked for her to speak.