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Virgin Islands’ New Residential Generator Policy: Implications for Lower-Income Households

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Portable Generator for repair after hurricane damage. Portable Diesel Generator for house.

The Virgin Islands has unveiled a new policy, jointly endorsed by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the V.I. Police Department, which targets the use of residential generators. While aimed at curbing air and noise pollution, the policy’s finer details may inadvertently place a heavier financial weight on households with limited income.

There’s been an uptick in the adoption of emergency backup generators in the Virgin Islands, attributed mainly to the consistent disturbances from hurricanes, storms, and tropical depressions. This new policy, which intends to reduce harmful air emissions and control noise disturbance, specifies criteria for generator installation and operation. These stipulations may make generator ownership and operation financially challenging for households at the lower end of the income spectrum.

Per the policy’s framework, residential generators, whether portable or stationary, can be used during emergency scenarios like natural disaster-induced power outages or unforeseen deviations in voltage. They can also be operated for maintenance and tests, in alignment with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Yet, their operation is bound by several stringent conditions. This includes:

  1. Adhering to the manufacturer’s specified installation methods.
  2. Following the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule.
  3. Ensuring they are placed in well-ventilated zones, distant from windows and entrances.
  4. Full compliance with both local and federal standards for air and noise pollution.

There’s an added layer of oversight, where these generators will be subjected to inspections and tests by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources. The objective is to validate their alignment with air pollution norms and the Anti-Noise Ordinance – which mandates that the noise from such generators shouldn’t surpass 60 dBA. To put this in context, the majority of regular, open-framed portable generators emit sounds in the range of 69 to 80 dBA, contingent on their size and model.

Interestingly, the policy does provide a respite from permits as per the Virgin Islands Air Pollution Control Act Rules and Regulations. However, the emphasis on meticulous adherence to manufacturer guidelines could insinuate the need for expert installation and premium units. Consequently, for households already grappling with limited financial resources, these conditions could make generator acquisition and their suitable installation almost prohibitive.

The essence of this policy is to strike a harmonious balance between safeguarding public health and ensuring ambient comfort. Nonetheless, it might inadvertently lead to a scenario where socioeconomic factors determine who can secure this essential power backup during emergencies.

Virgin Islands’ residents should scrupulously scrutinize the policy’s intricacies and gauge its implications on their finances before investing in a new generator. This is not a mere advisory policy; non-compliance could invite punitive measures.

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USVI Community Pulse

LEPC Announces Funding to Combat Substance Abuse, Support Violence Against Women Initiatives, and Assist Crime Victims

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The Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC) recently unveiled a series of funding opportunities aimed at tackling key community issues such as substance abuse in prisons, violence against women, and victim assistance. These initiatives are supported by the U.S. Department of Justice, as revealed in recent announcements from Government House.

The LEPC is committed to enhancing criminal justice efforts through effective collaborations, expert advice, and resource provision, aiming to foster safer communities across the Virgin Islands. According to one of the statements, these efforts reflect the agency’s dedication to community safety and justice.

Among the funding opportunities is the Federal Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) for State Prisoners Program for fiscal year 2019. The program focuses on the development and implementation of substance use disorder treatment programs within state correctional facilities. It offers three types of program funding: residential, jail-based, or aftercare, with a preference for proposals that include partnerships with community-based treatment facilities.

In parallel, the LEPC has also rolled out the Violence Against Women STOP Formula Grants for the fiscal years 2021 and 2022. These grants support private non-profits and government agencies in the Virgin Islands that provide direct services to victims of violent crimes, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The initiative encourages programs that create comprehensive, victim-sensitive strategies to confront violence against women and ensure accountability for perpetrators.

Moreover, the LEPC announced the availability of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Assistance Formula Grants for the same period. These grants aim to aid non-profit victim service providers and government agencies in delivering essential services that help crime victims recover. Funded services include crisis counseling, therapy, group treatment or support, and emergency legal advocacy. The funds originate from the Crime Victims Fund, created in 1984, which collects federal criminal fines, penalties, and forfeitures to support victim services.

The deadline for applications for all three grants is June 3. Applicants must submit several crucial documents for their proposals to be considered. For further information, potential applicants can contact Mr. Smith at [email protected] or call (340) 774-6400.

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USVI Community Pulse

Rotational Outages Announced for St. Croix Due to Power Plant Issues

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The V.I. Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has implemented rotational power outages across St. Croix starting today, as several generators at the Estate Richmond Power Plant unexpectedly went offline. This disruption, caused by a combination of adverse marine weather conditions and mechanical failures, has significantly reduced the plant’s capacity to supply electricity during peak demand periods.

To manage the reduced power generation, WAPA has established a schedule for rotating outages, primarily during peak hours. These will occur from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., and are expected to continue until the situation is resolved. WAPA has made provisions to exempt critical infrastructure such as hospitals and airports from the outages to ensure that essential services remain operational.

The authority is calling on residents and businesses to conserve energy to help stabilize the grid and minimize the number of feeders affected by the outages. Additionally, WAPA has warned that some areas might face interruptions in water service as various pump stations lose power.

WAPA issued a statement expressing empathy for the community’s distress caused by the outages: “The Authority understands the frustration and inconvenience that these outages will cause our customers and sincerely appreciates the patience and understanding demonstrated by the community during this time.”

Below is the detailed schedule for the rotational outages in the St. Croix district:

  • 8AM – 10AM: Outage affects Feeder 2A
  • 10AM – 12PM: Outage affects Feeder 3A & 4A
  • 12PM – 2PM: Outage affects Feeder 6A & 7B
  • 2PM – 4PM: Outage affects Feeder 6B & 10B
  • 4PM – 6PM: Outage affects Feeder 2A
  • 6PM – 8PM: Outage affects Feeder 3A & 4A
  • 8PM – 10PM: Outage affects Feeder 6A & 7B
  • 10PM – 12AM: Outage affects Feeder 6B & 10B

WAPA encourages everyone affected to stay informed through updates from their website and local news sources.

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USVI Community Pulse

V.I. Legislature Celebrates 16 Distinguished Individuals and Organizations

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The V.I. Legislature hosted a Perma Plaque Ceremony at the Frits E. Lawaetz Conference Room in St. Croix this Monday, recognizing 16 Virgin Islanders and local organizations for their exceptional contributions to the community. These individuals and groups had undergone thorough vetting by the relevant legislative committees, with some accolades tracing back to as early as the 30th Legislature.

Senate President Novelle Francis Jr. emphasized the significance of the ceremony, stating, “Today’s event highlights the invaluable contributions of our honorees in knitting the social fabric of our community through their tradition of service.”

Among those honored were a diverse group of public servants, educators, veterans, scientists, entertainers, and sports figures. Senator Francis remarked on the defining service and commitment of the awardees.

In a special acknowledgment, former delegate to Congress Donna Marie Christian-Christensen was awarded the Virgin Islands Medal of Honor, which was also posthumously presented to Edgar Milton Isles, a late senator. Dr. Christian-Christensen expressed her gratitude, reflecting on her upbringing in St. Croix and her desire to give back to her territory. Further honors are anticipated for her, with plans to rename the Charles Howard Hospital to the Donna Marie Christensen M.D. Department of Health after its reconstruction.

Senator Franklin Johnson praised Edgar Milton Isles for his dedication to community service. The ceremony also spotlighted sports enthusiasts such as Alvin “Baby” Delano Burke Sr. and Eugene “Genix” Thomas, a revered baseball and softball coach, whose contributions were celebrated by former Senator Kurt Vialet and others.

Additionally, Michelle Mychah Leone Smith was recognized for her exceptional achievements in track and field, hinting at a potential Olympic future. Celebrations extended to the Music in Motion School of Higher Dance Education and the St. Croix Majorettes for their decades of dedication to the arts and community service.

Other honorees included the Virgin Islands National Guard, Command Sergeant Major Charles David (Ret.), and William Bohlke Jr., recognized for his role in bringing NOAA Hurricane Hunters to the territory. Kemit Amon-Lewis was celebrated for his marine science contributions, particularly to coral reef preservation.

The ceremony also acknowledged educational and advocacy efforts with honors given to Gloria H. Canegeta Waterman and Roselin Maud McFarlane, an advocate for independent living for people with disabilities. Joseph Olmeda was celebrated for his long-standing service to the community.

The event concluded with special recognition of the Virgin Island Agriculture and Food Fair Board of Directors, the University of the Virgin Islands, and the Department of Agriculture for their 50 years of dedicated service in coordinating Agri-Fest.

Reflecting on the ceremony, former Senator Vialet underscored the importance of these honors in documenting the rich history of the Virgin Islands, hinting at future accolades, including street and building renamings and even the commissioning of busts to further honor notable Virgin Islanders.

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