Connect with us

WAPA

Progress Halted on WAPA’s Wärtsilä Generator Installation Due to Financial Dispute

Published

on

The Randolph Harley Power Plant in St. Thomas showcases its latest addition: new Wärtsilä generation units, promising enhanced energy efficiency for the USVI. Credit: WAPA

The latest endeavor to modernize the US Virgin Islands’ energy infrastructure has encountered a significant roadblock. The installation of the Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) four new Wärtsilä generators, heralded as a cornerstone for bolstering energy efficiency and reducing operational costs, is currently at a standstill. During a recent Public Services Commission (PSC) meeting, a revelation by ex-officio PSC member Senator Carla Joseph unveiled that the project has been frozen for months due to a lingering contractual dispute.

PSC consultant Jim Madden elaborated to Senator Joseph that while the initial three units are operational, the subsequent four, which arrived on the island in 2021, have yet to be activated. He mentioned, “The next four, which have been on island since 2021, have not been put into operation.” Despite expectations for these units to become operational within the previous year, with a successful test of one unit in June 2023 hinting at completion by August, unresolved financial disagreements between WAPA and Wärtsilä have brought the project to a halt.

This impasse has not only affected the generator units but also the associated battery storage components, with no current timeline for their activation. Madden highlighted the lack of progress, stating, “Because of that, work on the units has stopped, work on the battery units has stopped, and they are not in service.” The standstill, which began in early January, leaves the future operational status of these units uncertain.

The ongoing dispute marks another chapter in the challenging relationship between WAPA and Wärtsilä. In 2021, Wärtsilä sued WAPA for breach of contract over a 2017 agreement to construct an LPG-fired reciprocating engine power plant at St. Thomas’s Randolph Harley Generating Complex. The lawsuit, filed in the District Court of the Virgin Islands, was settled in December 2021, yet the current disagreements underscore persistent challenges in executing essential infrastructure projects in the USVI.

The resolution of this dispute is eagerly anticipated, as the operationalization of these Wärtsilä units is crucial for advancing the US Virgin Islands towards a future of reliable, cost-effective, and efficient energy solutions.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WAPA

Nearly All Impacted by WAPA Billing Error Receive Refunds

Published

on

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has resolved a billing error that inadvertently affected around 3,000 customers due to a glitch during system testing. The mishap occurred on Monday evening when, during a routine trial in their billing system’s test environment, unintended charges were mistakenly applied to customer accounts.

WAPA acted promptly to address the error, successfully reversing the incorrect charges for all affected accounts except two. Customers who were impacted should see a reversal transaction on their account statements, which will display as a negative amount reflecting the refund.

The utility also clarified that for those customers whose charges are still showing as pending on their bank statements, these will automatically be removed without any action needed from the customer. WAPA stressed that these pending charges will simply disappear, and the customer’s balance will adjust accordingly.

WAPA expressed regret over the confusion and inconvenience caused by the glitch. They are currently making efforts to ensure all remaining issues are swiftly corrected to prevent future occurrences.

Continue Reading

WAPA

Rotational Power Outages Scheduled in USVI Due to Weather and Equipment Challenges

Published

on

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has scheduled rotational power outages across the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix districts. This decision stems from challenging marine weather conditions and malfunctioning generation units. The authority views these outages as a strategic approach to circumvent more extensive power disruptions and to keep electricity flowing in critical areas.

Ashley Bryan, WAPA’s Chief Operation Officer, emphasized the necessity of these outages. “While we recognize the disruptions our decision may cause, these measures are crucial to prevent broader outages and ensure ongoing electrical service over the weekend,” Bryan stated. She further highlighted the efforts to balance the impact of short-term outages on fewer customers against the risk of more widespread blackouts.

Specifically, in the St. Thomas/St. John district, the combination of adverse weather and a dwindling fuel supply raises the potential for widespread power failure. To counter this threat, WAPA plans to initiate rotational outages from late Friday or early Saturday, continuing through Sunday, prioritizing electricity for essential services.

In St. Croix, the problem is compounded by several offline generation units, which will lead to reduced power output from the Estate Richmond Power Plant beginning Saturday. To manage this, the authority will implement outages during peak times—noon to 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.—until further notice. WAPA is calling on all residents and businesses to conserve energy, which is vital for stabilizing the grid and ensuring functional feeders.

WAPA is actively working on these challenges to reduce the frequency and duration of disruptions and extends its apologies for any inconvenience these necessary measures may cause.

Continue Reading

WAPA

PSC Stands Ground on Electricity Rates Despite WAPA’s Deferred Fuel Cost Dilemma

Published

on

The Public Services Commission (PSC) recently addressed the Water & Power Authority’s (WAPA) plea to extend the existing electricity rate under the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC), amid discussions about the disparity between WAPA’s fuel expenditures and the costs recovered from consumers.

WAPA’s argument of a burgeoning deferred fuel cost balance could not sway the commission, primarily due to the absence of audited financial statements for recent years. This lack of financial transparency hampered discussions about transferring these costs to consumers, the PSC highlighted.

During a presentation, consultant Jim Madden pointed out that WAPA has requested the maintenance of the current LEAC rate of 22.22 cents per kilowatt-hour until at least June 30. He emphasized that while considering this extension, it’s important to acknowledge the deferred fuel balance for the electric system stood at $18 million as per the latest audited financial statement from fiscal year 2020, nearly three and a half years ago.

PSC Commissioner David Hughes intervened with a reminder that the commission had previously resolved to defer discussions on deferred fuel balances until WAPA submits audited financial statements. A brief discussion ensued, leading to a consensus to hear out the report with the understanding that no decisions regarding the deferred fuel cost balance would be concluded.

Madden expressed that the resolution on how to manage the growing gap between fuel costs and consumer charges depends on guidance from the commission. Yet, Hughes posited that this disparity might not even exist, suggesting that a reevaluation of the calculations could eliminate the deferred fuel balance from WAPA’s financial records. The true state of affairs, he argued, could only be determined through the pending audits.

Clarifying WAPA’s stance, CEO Andrew Smith mentioned that the utility is not seeking deferred fuel recovery at the moment. Subsequently, Hughes proposed, and the commission unanimously agreed, to extend the current LEAC rate into the upcoming quarter.

However, Madden hinted at the looming necessity to address the recorded discrepancies, suggesting that this issue might resurface in future discussions.

Continue Reading

Trending