On Thursday at an emergency meeting on St. Croix, the governing board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) authorized its entering into a shared operations and maintenance agreement with Wartsila Caribbean for the operation of three new generating units at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas.
“With the commissioning and testing phase of the new generators nearing completion, and given that the use of reciprocating engines in WAPA’s dispatch of electrical generation is relatively new, we determined the best viable solution is to enter into such agreement,” said Executive Director / CEO Lawrence J. Kupfer.
“The agreement would be for WAPA staff to operate and maintain the facility under the direction of Wartsila until WAPA’s production staff has gained enough experience to perform the operations and maintenance of the facility independently. Initiating this agreement would guarantee that all of the Authority’s performance targets are met in regards to availability, plant heat rates, regulatory compliance and megawatts output of the generators over a three-year period,” Kupfer said.
The agreement covers all aspects of the unit’s day-to-day operations and all of the related scheduled preventative major maintenance as well as the administration of each task. The pact is for a 36-month period with an option to renew for an additional 12 months. The total cost is $7.9 million to be paid over a three-year interval.
Over the last few weeks, testing and commissioning of the new generating units has taken place. The units have been tested up to their capacity, providing 21 megawatts of electrical generation to power the St. Thomas – St. John District. They are fueled solely by propane, a lower cost fuel.
The combination of propane fuel to power the units, the lower heat rate when compared to other existing generators, and the efficiency of the new generators, will lead to WAPA’s experiencing reduced fuel costs.
The board also approved a pair of contracts with Ethos Energy to provide hot gas path inspections on two generators at the Estate Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix. The combined contract total is $1,035,387. A hot gas inspection examines components exposed to high temperatures from the combustion process and parts that have been in service for a long period of time.
All votes were unanimous.
Board members in attendance included: Chairwoman Elizabeth Armstrong, Vice Chairman Hubert Turnbull, Secretary Juanita Young, Commissioner Anthony Thomas, Directors Kyle Fleming and Joel Lee, Cheryl Boynes Jackson and Gerald T. Groner Esq. Noel Loftus was excused.