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Lower Electric Rates Take Effect In July

WAPA Executive Director Lawrence Kupfer said he believes the string of recent power outages in the territory is over, and called the recent problems "unacceptable." (File photo)
WAPA Executive Director Lawrence J. Kupfer. (File photo)

The Virgin Islands Public Services Commission has approved a reduction in electric rates, which represents an approximate 1.5 cents drop in the per kilowatt-hour rate for both residential and commercial customers, the Water and Power Authority announced in a news release Monday.

The rate reduction was proposed by the commission’s consultants and accepted by WAPA prior to a June 3 PSC meeting.

“Effective with the July billing, a residential customer utilizing 400 kilowatt-hours per month will see a bill totaling $159 while a commercial customer’s bill for usage of 2,000 kilowatt-hours will average $900,” Executive Director Lawrence J. Kupfer said.

Based on the approval, the per kilowatt-hour rate for residential customers using less than 250 kilowatt-hours per month is 38 cents, and the rate is 40 cents for consumption equal to and greater than 251 kilowatt-hours. Commercial customers will pay a rate of 45 cents per kilowatt-hour. The lower per kilowatt-hour rate will be reflected on customer’s July bills and remain in place through December 2020.

Electric power grid in silhouette. (Shutterstock image)
Electric power grid in silhouette. (Shutterstock image)
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“We are mindful of the economic challenges facing residents of the territory and support this decrease in rates. Additionally, our generation dispatch is utilizing more LPG as the primary fuel for power generation. During the six-month period that the rate will be in effect, we anticipate the Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas will become 100 percent operational on propane similar to the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix. Our operational costs have improved as we have utilized more propane although the price spread between oil and propane on [the] world market is not as large as it has been historically,” Kupfer added.

Kupfer noted that the new rate does not include deferred fuel costs and cautioned the PSC that future filings for LEAC adjustments will include a deferred fuel amount. The Authority, he said, will also file a deferred fuel reconciliation with the commission once fiscal year 2018 audited statements are completed.

Also, Kupfer said, WAPA has concluded its May billing cycle and issued a total of 51,828 Yes Cares Act credits to customers.

“In all, the Authority issued 7,671 credits to commercial account holders and 44,157 credits to residential customers. The credits total $14.8 million.”

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