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PSC Vows Action to Help WAPA Ratepayers

June 28, 2006 — Acknowledging that WAPA rates "are at an all-time high and among the highest … in the nation," the Public Services Commission, in a release issued Wednesday, vowed to take actions to ensure "safe and reliable electric services at reasonable rates."
The commission said it "shares the concerns of the ratepayers with the extraordinary costs of electricity and water in the Virgin Islands" and will be looking at "three major areas for improvements in WAPA's operations" to save money for consumers.
The three major areas the PSC will be examining for WAPA cost savings include:
• a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) on St. Croix, with an estimated cost savings of $30 million annually;
• improving current fuel efficiency in WAPA's generating capacity;
• reducing line losses through unbilled services, poor equipment and theft.
Together the PSC estimates that the three measures could reduce WAPA bills by as much as one-third. That's the good news. Unfortunately, according to the commission, it will be a minimum of two years before the HRSG system will be operational.
According to the release, "WAPA is currently spending $150 million per year just to purchase fuel. This is three times what WAPA paid in 2002." Acknowledging that prices are unlikely to fall anytime soon, the commission stressed the importance of making WAPA's operations as efficient as possible.
Turning to the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause factor (LEAC), the commission's noted that WAPA has "asked to extend the monthly LEAC rate that has been in effect since August 2004, to address large changes in the price of oil." The commission said it will consider that request at its next meeting, but noted that the "automatic monthly adjustments have been discontinued."
The commission also noted that the rising price of oil may not be the only reasons for WAPA's high rates and that the PSC and WAPA are working to bring both near- and long-term relief.
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