Power generation with propone is a tremendous opportunity for the Virgin Islands. Like many island communities, the Virgin Islands are nearly 100 percent dependent on imported fuel oil to provide the electricity that keeps our homes and businesses running.
This severe dependence on imported fuel oil ties the fate of our economy, and our citizens, to a global oil market that is unpredictable and highly volatile. With numerous key suppliers affected by regional tensions and domestic political instability, the need to diversify our energy supplies is apparent.
The V.I. Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) recent announcement of a switch from using fuel oil to propane for power generation is the most significant step yet taken to address the economic concerns we share about our current energy portfolio.
This decision replaces the current core of our power production with a fuel that is both affordable and more reliable than fuel oil. It also enhances our energy security and resiliency by adding flexibility to WAPA’s fuel supply options.
Most importantly, switching to propane will reduce WAPA’s fuel costs by approximately $90 million annually, meaning a decrease in the fuel surcharge (LEAC) and savings for all of WAPA’s customers.
The increasing price of fuel oil has been the main driver of utility rate increases for more than a decade. This project will finally free electricity and water customers from the burden of having to pay higher utility bills every time the market price of oil increases.
Customers, households, hospitals, schools, businesses and the Virgin Islands government will all significantly save on the cost of their monthly power bills. This decrease in cost will give families more money to spend on other essentials and will allow businesses to make investments or hire more workers.
In addition, the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project – a $91 million dollar investment in the local economy – will create job opportunities and increased tax revenue for the Virgin Islands.
Propane is also one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, meaning the air quality on our islands will improve as a result of the fuel switch. In fact, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of propane are 20 percent lower than that of fuel oil and 50 percent lower than coal.
WAPA’s fuel switch project goes hand in hand with the national agenda to move towards cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, with the added benefit of being able to cut high power bills for our residents. WAPA should be recognized for its leadership, both here in the Virgin Islands and in the region, for demonstrating the way towards a cleaner and more stable energy future.
Put simply, this is a good deal for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Verdel L. Petersen, St. Croix
This Is a Good Deal for the Virgin Islands
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