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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 26, 2022


At least one member of the V.I. Water and Power Authority's Governing Board doesn't think much of the utility’s power restoration efforts on St. Croix.
Dean Plaskett raised the issue Tuesday with Raymond George, executive director of WAPA, at the utility’s board meeting on St. Thomas. Plaskett characterized WAPA’s effort as "a slow response to a minimal storm."
Plaskett, who is the Commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources for the territory, appeared annoyed at times that WAPA crews had not "even been in my neighborhood" to assess damage, never mind repairing damaged lines and facilities. Plaskett complained that since the storm he has been forced to take cold showers at his office.
George, meanwhile, said St. Croix restoration work will be "expedited" by the arrival of WAPA line crews from St. Thomas. He said those crews will be assigned to restoring power to the island’s East End.
George projected that 75 percent to 80 percent of St. Croix’s normal electric load will be operating by the weekend.
WAPA disclosed that a crew from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, (PREPA), was expected on St. Croix to make its own assessment of damage and indicate how it can assist WAPA’s recovery effort. George said that if the Federal Emergency Management Agency accepts PREPA’s proposal to assist WAPA, Puerto Rican crews could begin working by this weekend.
Also at the meeting were board chairman Arthur Downing; DLCA Commissioner Andrew Rutnik; DHPR Commissioner Ira Hobson and new members Carol Burke; William Lomax and Claude "Tappy" Molloy.
The board also discussed the growing government debt to WAPA. Terry Drake, WAPA’s chief financial officer, estimated the debt in excess of $30 million, including a recent offset of some monies owed the government by the utility. Drake recommended monies WAPA owes the government be deducted from the government’s debt to ease the burden on the authority’s limited cash flow.
While most concurred with Drake, the board opted to direct WAPA’s management to set up a meeting with Gov. Charles Turnbull to underscore the dire need for the government to bring its electrical and water accounts current.
In other action, the board clashed with a reporter over the process by which it opted to discuss correspondence between Turnbull and WAPA. The letters reportedly have to do with the planned interest of Southern Electric in acquiring a controlling share of the utility.
Daily News reporter Chris Larson challenged board chair Downing to explain why the letters between himself and Turnbull were being discussed behind closed doors. Several members told Larson he was out of place to address the board.

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