On two days this week, members of the 33rd Legislature toured WAPA’s power plants in Estate Richmond, St. Croix, and Krum Bay, St. Thomas. The tours resulted from an invitation extended by WAPA Executive Director and CEO Lawrence Kupfer.
“We extended an invitation for the lawmakers to get a firsthand look at the new, more efficient and propane-fired Wartsila and Aggreko generators,” Kupfer said, noting that the opportunity to tour the facilities and interact with staff was timely following the extensive testimony WAPA provided the Senate recently on the utility’s operations.
At the plants, senators got an up close look at the power generating units, control rooms, the Vitol LPG Facilities, the advanced technology in use at the electrical substations as well as the Seven Seas Seawater Reverse Osmosis water production plants.
On St. Thomas, Plant Superintendent John Woodson III briefed senators on what has been determined to be the root cause of recent service interruptions in the St. Thomas-St. John District. Woodson pointed to pressure regulating valves that govern the fuel flow to two of WAPA’s leased generators.
“Our analysis showed that the valves were not providing the volume of fuel supply needed when plant instability occurred, resulting in their tripping offline. With the replacement of the valves, we have seen greater reliability from the two generating units, and, in general, more stable performance,” Woodson said.
Earlier this year, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and members of his executive staff got a similar tour of the St. Thomas power plant.
“We are hopeful that the firsthand look at this aspect of our operations coupled with the information provided at the Oct. 1 hearing will provide some insight to the Legislature as we work together with the senators, governor and other elected officials to ensure a brighter future for WAPA,” Kupfer said.
The tours of the power plants with members of the Legislature took place on Monday, Oct. 7, on St. Croix, and Friday, Oct. 11, on St. Thomas.
“The opportunity to provide lawmakers a firsthand look at WAPA’s operations capped the annual observance of Public Power Week, which focused on helping customers and stakeholders understand how they can better engage with their community owned utility,” Kupfer said.