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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, April 12, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsMore Electric Vehicles on the Way for WAPA

More Electric Vehicles on the Way for WAPA

Board member Lionel Selwood congratulated WAPA administrators for improving the vehicle fleet at a meeting of the utility’s board on Thursday. (Screenshot from online meeting)

The Water and Power Authority CEO Andrew Smith told the authority’s governing board Thursday that the WAPA vehicle fleet was being modernized. A lot of modernizing arrives next week with seven electric pickup trucks — Ford 150s.

Ford started production of more environmentally friendly versions of the United States’ most popular pickup in 2023. According to various websites, the cost of driving the electric F-150 pickup each year is about 30 percent less than that of a regular truck. However, savings depend on the price of gasoline and the cost of electricity. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the cost of electricity is over three times the average cost on the continent. Gasoline is higher in the territory but not three times higher. Different websites estimate the truck will travel two miles for one kWh charge.

WAPA’s use of electric vehicles instead of gasoline vehicles increases its customer base. It has recently lost customers because homes and businesses are producing their own energy.

According to Don Gregoire, director of Water Service for WAPA, other pieces of the modernization of the fleet include eight Teslas, three hybrid compact SUVs, a hybrid bucket truck, and a hybrid digger already owned by WAPA.

Smith said mechanics training to work on the new vehicles is upcoming. He added that he believed when residents see the hybrids and electric cars on the road, there will be a surge of purchases of them by residents.

Kyle Fleming, chairman of the board, told the Source in an email, “The all-electric trucks that WAPA has purchased will have associated chargers installed at various WAPA locations to ensure a network of charging is available.”

He added that the Energy Office, of which he is the director, “is aggressively” developing public charging stations with installation planned in March and opening them for public access in April.

Board member Lionel Selwood, who raised the questions about the fleet, also asked about progress in replacing the authority’s failing Advanced Metering Infrastructure systems. Smith said work could begin this calendar year but would take two years to complete.

At the meeting attended by board members Juanita Young, Kyle Fleming, Hurbert Turnbull, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, and Selwood, the board approved a changed order for $90,000 more at the Harley Substation and a no-cost time extension for work on repair of the east end transformer.

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