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WAPA's New Transformer Soon To Go Online

Aug. 23, 2007 — WAPA's new 12 foot-tall, 140-ton transformer is 75 percent installed and should be operational soon, an official said Thursday.
The huge electrical device isn't new per se but is "new to WAPA," said Gregory Rhymer, director of systems planning and environmental affairs. It replaces another that failed in July.
The transformer is one of two used transformers bought from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority for nearly $400,000, Rhymer said.
The first arrived in St. Thomas on Aug. 19 and the second, backup transformer awaits delivery from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. It could be a few weeks before the second transformer arrives, however, because the town in western Puerto Rico isn't along normal shipping routes to St. Thomas, Rhymer said.
Five people were injured when the old transformer suffered mechanical failure July 17 and exploded. Blackouts covered much of the territory. (See " Explosion at Power Plant Injures Interns, Causes Widespread Outage.")
There was some contrroversy over how WAPA would pay for the equipment.
Rhymer said that because of the urgency of the situation, the agency bought the new transformers and worried about the funding later.
He extended thanks to the members of the Public Services Commission Board for agreeing to eventually allow WAPA to use the proper funds to buy the equipment: "It's very difficult being a lay person on the outside and to be faced with these abnormal conditions, and to understand the impact they have," Rhymer said.
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