Op-ed: An Economic Recovery Requires Affordable, Reliable Energy

An appeal of the PSC's decision not to increase WAPA's base rate will cause electric rates to jump, the authority said in its appeal. (Shutterstock image)
An increase of WAPA’s base rate will cause electric rates to jump. (Shutterstock image)

When WAPA goes down it can be for an entire day or many hours at a time.

What we are experiencing with the latest series of power outages is a drift backwards into unreliability.

Last summer it took months before WAPA brought in outside expertise to assist in resolving the technical issues which once identified were quickly rectified.

There should be no delay in getting to the root causes or in calling in supporting expertise as needed.

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Last year during the public debate on Wapa’s request for a rate increase the utility got what it wanted; namely a base rate increase purportedly to refinance VITOL debt at a better interest rate with the promise this would lead to lowering rates in the long term. What is the status of the VITOL refinancing?

When can we expect a base rate reduction?

WAPA indicated that it would receive hundreds of millions from FEMA and the block grants that would be used to modernize and upgrade the plant and the line distribution system.

WAPA should disclose to the public how much money has been received by FEMA to date and how that money is being spent line item.

What generating units have been purchased, when do they go operational, and the time tables for installation of future units on order?

What is the status of the composite poles’ installation throughout the St. John, St. Thomas and Water island district?

What debt has been refinanced and where do we stand with our oil and propane suppliers as we go into hurricane season?

As it relates to the LEAC, on June 3 WAPA has a meeting at the PSC petitioning to leave the LEAC rate as is, which means there will be no rate reduction or relief for businesses or residents if they prevail with the commission.

Governor Bryan and his team have done a very commendable job keeping the public safe during the Covid-19 crisis. The Governor is also taking a measured approach to reopening the economy.

The VI government, businesses and residents are in a deep hole as a result of the pandemic and the shutdown of the economy.

Those on fixed income and living pay check to pay check or unemployed are suffering dearly. The road forward is not going to be easy.

Any recovery requires that our utility company produces affordable and reliable power.

Governor Bryan, businesses in the territory are holding on by a thread. More of the same with WAPA will lead to permanent lights out; more store closures, job loss and reduced taxes.

Filippo Cassinelli, business owner, St. Thomas

 

IT WAS SOME NIGHT

 

The people

asked

for light.

 

A faint glimmer

appeared

bulbs

flickered.

 

Then power

was lost.

 

People

suffered

in darkness.

 

Misery

reigned.

 

With electronic

efficiency

WAPA

emails

 

Pledging

“hard at work

for you“.

 

Hope

will be

restored.

 

Outside

the window

a solitary

bird.

 

Perches on

high voltage

wire.

 

Prepares

for

flight.

 

Another

WAPA

promise.

 

Oh, dark night.

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