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Court Denies Ocean Point Terminals’ Request to Stop Water Program



In a decisive move, District Court Judge Lewis dismissed Ocean Point Terminals’ (formerly known as Limetree Bay Terminals) plea to interrupt the commencement of a mandated water distribution scheme.

Tracing back to January 2023, residents of St. Croix raised an appeal suggesting the establishment of a new water distribution mechanism. Their concerns stemmed from the potential adverse effects of the 2021 flare event at the refinery, which they believed might have tainted the island’s water reservoirs. In light of the intricacies surrounding the issue, the District Court opted for a two-tiered approach in February: first identifying the need and then chalking out the blueprint of the program.

Following an intensive four-day evidence gathering session in April, the court, in its phase one analysis, concluded a pressing need for a water distribution system. This was especially pertinent for those residents who faced challenges accessing uncontaminated water without compromising other fundamental necessities.

In July 2023, the court conducted yet another series of detailed hearings to scrutinize the operational facets of the program. Based on its phase two findings, the water distribution initiative was formally inaugurated.

Ocean Point Terminals, however, took issue with the court’s decision. On August 7, they signaled their intention to challenge the preliminary directive. A day later, they sought a temporary halt, hoping to freeze the preliminary directive while they pursued their appeal.

In their appeal, Ocean Point largely echoed their prior reservations—most of which the court had already set aside. They highlighted the significant financial burden of potentially shelling out almost $7 million annually on water-related expenses alone. The crux of their argument rested on differentiating themselves from the actual culprits behind the alleged contamination. Ocean Point stressed that just because Limetree Bay Refinery and Limetree Bay Terminals were affiliated, it shouldn’t imply the terminal’s accountability for damages initiated by the refinery.

Furthermore, they expressed concerns that the water scheme could potentially mislead the community into assuming a broad-scale water pollution problem, a claim they believed lacked concrete evidence. In their words, the plaintiffs’ claims were largely “founded on speculation,” and it’s unfair to penalize them based on hypotheticals.

Addressing their concerns, the court reminded Ocean Point that rehashing previously dismissed arguments wouldn’t necessarily pave the way for a favorable appeal verdict. The court also touched upon Ocean Point’s anxieties over irreversible reputational fallout from overseeing the water project. However, the court highlighted that the company’s image might already have suffered due to existing documents connecting them with the purported water quality issues.

Factoring in all the arguments, Judge Lewis remained steadfast in his commitment to the well-being of the community. He underscored the paramount importance of maintaining uninterrupted access to potable water for St. Croix’s residents and, consequently, ruled against Ocean Point’s appeal.

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VI Electron and Honeywell Forge New Path in Energy Storage for USVI Solar Initiatives



In a significant step forward for renewable energy in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Honeywell announced its collaboration with VI Electron on Tuesday. This partnership marks the beginning of an ambitious plan to implement the first of several advanced battery energy storage solutions (BESS) in up to six strategically placed solar parks across the territory.

The role of battery storage in these municipal solar projects cannot be overstated. It’s a game-changer, enabling the storage of excess energy produced during peak times. This not only guarantees a stable power supply but also enhances the overall efficiency of the power grid.

Honeywell’s inaugural BESS for VI Electron boasts an impressive 124 MW capacity. It features a comprehensive battery management system that promises advanced energy controls and an integrated safety system. This state-of-the-art system is a key to smarter energy management, allowing for precise forecasting and optimization of energy usage, thereby paving the way for a more cost-effective and efficient energy grid.

Governor Albert Bryan Jr. has expressed enthusiastic support for this initiative. He recognizes the alignment of Honeywell’s battery storage expertise with the territory’s vision for a greener future. Governor Bryan highlighted the significance of the VI Electron and Honeywell partnership as a catalyst in achieving the territory’s ambitious renewable energy target, aiming for at least 30 percent of energy consumption to be sourced from renewable methods.

Earlier in the year, the V.I. Water and Power Authority board greenlit power purchase agreements with VI Electron for solar energy provision and with Advance Power for the development of wind energy solutions. This move is a cornerstone in diversifying the territory’s energy sources.

The integration of renewable energy into the USVI’s energy portfolio is expected to bring about a substantial decrease in consumer energy costs. This is primarily attributed to a marked reduction in the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC). WAPA CEO Andrew Smith shared his optimistic outlook with board members in April, foreseeing a significant reduction in fuel costs for the territory.

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“Jump-Up!” Celebration Hindered by Christiansted’s Deteriorating Roads: Attendee Injured, Local Businesses Affected



The festive atmosphere of the “Jump-Up!” event in Christiansted was overshadowed by poor road conditions, impacting both vendors and attendees. Laurie Hirons, owner of Gecko Boutique, described to WTJX how vendors struggled with inadequate setup spaces, with some opting not to participate. “Setting up tents in what seemed like gutters was a challenge for many,” Hirons recounted.

Matt Ridgeway, chair of the Christiansted Retail & Restaurant Association, reported a distressing incident where an individual sustained arm injuries due to the hazardous roadways. Ridgeway expressed his concern, saying, “It’s troubling that our environment isn’t safer for everyone, locals and visitors alike.”

According to Ridgeway, the event saw a notable decrease in sales, attributing this to reduced pedestrian traffic. He observed a general reluctance among people to visit Christiansted under the current conditions.

Both Hirons and Ridgeway voiced their frustration over unfulfilled promises. Despite assurances from road contractor Marco St. Croix following a stakeholders’ meeting, the much-needed road repairs remain pending. Hirons expressed her disappointment to WTJX, stating, “Promises were made, yet we see no improvements.”

Ridgeway extended his concerns beyond the roads, highlighting broader issues affecting the Virgin Islands, such as environmental challenges and infrastructure needs. “Our focus shouldn’t be solely on tourist comfort but also on the wellbeing of St. Croix residents and all Virgin Islanders,” he remarked.

Emphasizing the urgency of addressing these issues, Ridgeway called for unity and accountability within the community. He stressed the importance of seizing current funding opportunities for recovery projects to build a better future for the territory. “We owe it to our children to make the most of this chance,” he asserted.

Ridgeway informed WTJX of an upcoming meeting with Waste Management Authority officials to discuss the long-standing issue of Christiansted’s road paving project, a source of frustration for residents and businesses for several years.

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S&P Global Foresees Potential Default for Ocean Point Terminals Amid Debt Concerns



S&P Global Ratings, a prominent credit rating agency, recently adjusted the debt rating of Limetree Bay Terminals LLC (now operating as Ocean Point Terminals in the USVI) to a lower level, signaling growing concerns over the company’s financial stability.

The downgrade, announced on November 17, shifted the company’s rating from CCC to CCC-, with a negative outlook. This change occurs as Ocean Point Terminals approaches the February 15, 2024, deadline to address its significant outstanding debt totaling approximately $476 million.

S&P Global Ratings expressed a stark assessment, stating that it anticipates Ocean Point Terminals will “likely default” or be compelled to negotiate a distressed exchange in the coming three months to manage its considerable debt. The agency did note, however, that this scenario could be avoided with a substantial increase in contracted business or an infusion of equity, though it deemed such developments unlikely.

Despite recent contract gains, S&P Global Ratings remains skeptical about the company’s ability to repay its loans through operational cash flows alone. The agency further noted that the current economic environment presents additional challenges to the company’s financial recovery.

The agency emphasized the high rates and unsustainable capital structure in the near term, pointing out the insufficiency of current and anticipated contracts to significantly alter the company’s financial course. As the February 15 maturity date for the debt nears, the likelihood of a distressed exchange — where a company negotiates with creditors to restructure its debt under more favorable terms — increases, influencing the negative outlook from S&P Global Ratings.

A distressed exchange could involve various restructuring strategies, including offering creditors equity in the company based on debt value or substituting existing debt with new, more favorable terms.

In the event of a distressed exchange or failure to meet interest or amortization payments, Ocean Point Terminals’ debt rating could face further downgrades. However, securing longer-term contracts that generate sufficient cash flow to cover debt service could lead to a revision of the company’s outlook to “stable,” as per S&P Global Ratings.

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