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HomeNewsLocal newsNo LEAC Increase as WAPA’s Deferred Costs Skyrocket

No LEAC Increase as WAPA’s Deferred Costs Skyrocket

BMR Energy CEO Bruce Levy. (BMR photo)
Bruce Levy said his company could not provide WAPA with free power forever. (Photo courtesy BMR)

At a Public Services Commission meeting where its rates were under discussion, V.I. Water and Power Authority officials failed to show up Tuesday, forcing the PSC to issue a subpoena.

PSC members questioned who would represent the authority now, as its chief executive officer has resigned.

Even without a representative from WAPA, the commission spent much of its meeting discussing WAPA’s proposed LEAC rate and what its deferred fuel costs meant to its murky financial situation.

The idea that a solar farm could sell its power directly to commercial customers, bypassing WAPA, was thrown into the middle of that discussion.

Bruce Levy, owner of BMR Donoe Solar and Spanish Town Solar Farms, returned to the commission again to plead for payment from WAPA for the electricity his farms were producing. He said, “The free supply of solar can’t go on forever.”

Levy complained to the commission in June last year about WAPA’s non-payment. After some pressure from the commission, WAPA paid BMR for about three months of power, but Levy said that payments had stopped, and his company is now owed close to $4 million.

Commissioner David Hughes, reiterating his stance from previous meetings, emphasized the potential consequences of WAPA’s non-payment of alternative energy suppliers. He warned that such a situation could deter these suppliers from developing projects in the territory, thereby stalling the progress of the energy sector.

Joel Hart, representing Advanced Power, which is developing two wind projects in the territory, said what Hughes said was important. He also updated the Commission on the progress of those two projects. He said four of the five signatures needed to approve land leases from the government required five signatures had been obtained, and the wind projects would probably take two years– one east and adjacent to the refinery on St. Croix and the other on St. Thomas on hills adjacent to the Bovoni landfill.

The LEAC rate was not changed from its 22-cent rate, meaning WAPA’s deferred fuel costs will increase. The deferred fuel costs, which are over 100 million now, is a cost WAPA hopes to collect after it brings its costs below what it is charging residents. This was supposed to happen as WAPA installed more energy-efficient generators; however, after two and a half years of promises, the new generators have not come online.

The PSC staff is expected to bring suggestions to the commission at its next meeting on how BMR can sell its energy production directly to customers. Hughes said he hoped WAPA would see that if it doesn’t pay BMR, it could lose customers and should “just pay BMR.

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