May 25, 2006 – In a press release, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority has announced that its governing board voted Wednesday to send a proposal to Gov. Turnbull to appoint a blue ribbon panel of community representatives to develop an "Energy Policy for the Virgin Islands."
According to Alphonso Franklin, chairman of the board's Planning Committee and author of the proposal, the panel would include representatives from the public and private sectors including WAPA, the V.I. Energy Office, the Legislature, Hovensa, the Gasoline Retail Association, and other entities concerned with the impact that the ever-increasing cost of fuel on the world market is having on the territory's electric rates, at the gas pumps, and in every facet of the V.I. economy.
Board member Claude "Tappy" Molly, in support of the proposal, stated that the energy crisis is at a critical point and immediate solutions are needed. "We have to be bold. If we need help, we should ask for help," he said.
Nellon Bowry, acting executive director, assured board members that the blue ribbon panel is suggested as part of a holistic approach to solving the energy crisis in the Virgin Islands. WAPA will continue to aggressively look for solutions within its own operations to address the skyrocketing cost of fuel the authority pays to Hovensa. WAPA's fuel bill from Hovensa for May is over $12.4 million dollars.
WAPA is presently working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Interior to define an energy strategy for the territory, to be submitted the U.S. Congress, as mandated in the Insular Areas Energy Security Section of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
WAPA will pursue the recommendations forthcoming from the energy assessment to be undertaken by the Department of Interior and the Pacific Power Association, with funds appropriated by the federal government at no cost to the territory.
The energy assessment report, to be completed by June and submitted to Congress by August, will identify and evaluate strategies and projects with the greatest potential to help WAPA reduce its reliance on energy imports in the next five years, increase energy conservation and maximize the use of indigenous energy resources such as wind, solar or ocean power.
Strategies will also seek to improve demand-side or customer-side energy management, which includes conducting energy audits similar to those being conducted presently throughout the territory by teams from WAPA and the V.I. Energy Office.
The WAPA board also took action as follows:
–authorized the executive director to negotiate and enter into a formal agreement with Bison Electric of Oklahoma and Dillard Smith of Tennessee to assist the authority with emergency electrical service restoration in the event of a hurricane;
–approved the purchase of a continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS) from Teledyne Instruments Monitor Labs in the amount of $321,447.00 for St. Thomas' Unit No. 23 gas turbine. The system is required by federal and local environmental regulations;
–approved the purchase of burners, boiler tubing, and air pre-heater assembly for St. Thomas' Unit No. 13 from Alstom Caribe, Inc. in the amount of $3,244,101.00.
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