WAPA’s New Generators Arrive; Transport Across Island Will Limit Traffic

Rendering of the Wartsila Power Plant with three new units at Harley power plant St. Thomas. (Image provided by WAPA, March 2017)
Rendering of the Wartsila Power Plant with three new units at Harley power plant St. Thomas. (Image provided by WAPA, March 2017)

The V.I. Water and Power Authority will take delivery of three new, state-of-the-art, generating units next week, marking the first time in 14 years that the authority has purchased new generation for the Randolph Harley Power Plant in Krum Bay, St. Thomas.

The generators, manufactured by Wartsila, arrived on Saturday, according to a WAPA news release. They and associated equipment will be transported to the grounds of the power plant on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“The movement of the units and equipment will begin early in the day on July 3 in an operation similar to that of prior years when WAPA transported large propane storage tanks and other generating units from Crown Bay to the power plant,” said WAPA Executive Director Lawrence J. Kupfer “We are taking advantage of reduced traffic in the area during the two holidays next week and the no cruise ships days, to move these large pieces of equipment,WAPA has held several logistics meetings with Wartsila, its subcontractors, the V.I. Port Authority and V.I. Police Department to ensure the safe movement of the equipment. Viya has also assisted in the repositioning of some telecommunications cables to ensure the proper level of clearance is provided along the route. Kupfer said that to accommodate the movement, police officers will limit access to the Sub Base area on both Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

“Officers will allow access to businesses in the area, however, traffic movement will be limited during the equipment movement. Traffic will be diverted at the intersection near the entrance to Crowley Shipping and on the airport access road at the intersection adjacent to the Emerald Beach Resort entrance.”

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According to WAPA, each of the generating units weigh 140 metric tons and will be brought to the power plant on self-propelled modular transporters.

“The route will take the units from the Homeport Dock at Crown Bay, past Crown Bay Center, make a right turn at the tennis courts, and continue along the Subbase roadway to the vicinity of the PUMA fuel terminal. The movement will then turn left near Willie’s Woodcraft and snake its way into the power plant compound. The movement will continue until the units are brought to their final position on newly created foundations,” Kupfer said.

The arrival of the units completes an acquisition process that began in 2016, with initial discussions between WAPA and Wartsila North America, and months of civil and preparation work on the grounds of the power plant, WAPA’s news release said. Once commissioned in late October, the units will provide 21 megawatts of electrical generation for dispatching to customers in the St. Thomas-St. John district.

“These units represent the first round of generation equipment that is not only more efficient and reliable when compared to any units now in use, but also right-sized for the current electrical needs in the district. The development of these new units falls in line with requirements of an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which provides a blueprint of WAPA’s generation over the next two decades. The three units will be powered by lower cost LPG fuel representing the continued effort by WAPA to lower the cost of electricity to both residential and commercial customers.

As the Wartsila units become operational, WAPA will begin to scale back the number of units it currently rents from APR Energy. The authority said it also will fine tune the dispatching of its own units to maximize efficiency and reliability.

“As the utility shifts to a greater reliance on LPG fuel to produce electricity, and reduces the number of rental units in use, operational costs will go down and efficiency will be increased,” Kupfer said.

Prior to the purchase of the Wartsila units, WAPA last purchased and commissioned new generating equipment in December 2004. At that time, Unit 23 was added to the generation fleet. A 39-megawatt generator, Unit 23 has become the utility’s workhorse in recent years. The unit has been undergoing a major maintenance overhaul and is expected back on line during the first two weeks of August.

Regular updates about the movement of equipment through Subbase will be provided to the public via WAPA ALERTS and announcements in the media. Those interested can sign up for WAPA ALERTS on the authority’s website, www.viwapa.vi.

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