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HomeNewsArchivesPSC Schedules Hearings on Vitelco, Ferry Companies' Rates

PSC Schedules Hearings on Vitelco, Ferry Companies' Rates

Oct. 30, 2008 — The V.I. Public Services Commission will hold four hearings to get public input as part of rate investigations of Vitelco and on the ferry companies plying the St. Thomas-St. John circuit.
The PSC has oversight of utility rates, with a mandate to ensure rates are reasonable and non-discriminatory. Under V.I. Code, since 2001 the PSC must perform a rate review every five years on its regulated utilities. The last review for Vitelco was in April 2003 and the last rate schedule was approved in August 2003, so a new rate review is required by law.
Vitelco parent Innovative Communications is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and Vitelco is slated to be sold to pay some of Innovative's debts. But efforts to sell these corporate entities have been complicated by both the global credit crunch and, locally, by the lack of clarity (for potential buyers) of the Vitelco rate structure. (See "PSC to Establish Telephone Rates by Dec. 3.") As a result, the corporate-sales efforts were suspended earlier in the summer, while sales continued for other assets of ex-Innovative CEO Jeffrey Prosser, such as works of art, expensive automobiles and real estate.
The PSC, working with the court-appointed Chapter 11 trustee handling Innovative's properties, has set up a schedule aiming to have new rates by Dec. 3, providing potential buyers with a clearer picture of the company's financial prospects and value over the next few years.
Hearings will be held for Vitelco on St. Thomas and St. Croix, with time for public comment at each meeting. All the hearings begin at 6:30 p.m.
Two rate hearings are scheduled for Vitelco: Nov. 5 on St. Croix in the Port Authority Conference Room at the Henry Rohlsen Airport, and Nov. 7 on St. Thomas in the PSC conference room in Barbel Plaza.
After the public hearings, former U.S. Attorney David Nissman, in his role as hearing examiner for the Vitelco rate investigation, will issue a report to the PSC Nov. 26 on proposed rates, according to a timeline presented recently in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. On Dec. 3, the PSC, using Moore's report, will announce new rates. Then, Dec. 17, Vitelco and other corporate properties of Prosser will be sold at a trustee-managed auction. On Dec. 19, the results of the sale will be brought before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith Fitzgerald for her approval or rejection. That timeline may change.
Ferry-rate hearings will take place Nov. 17 in the St. John Legislature Conference Room and Nov. 18 on St. Thomas in the PSC conference room.
You can also forward comments to Michael S. Moore, a PSC legal assistant, via emailor by fax at (340) 774-4971 on St. Thomas or (340) 778-0302 on St. Croix.
Ed. note: The Source incorrectly reported that Thomas Moore is the hearing examiner for the Vitelco rate investigation. Moore recently resigned and the PSC last week appointed Nissman to replace him.
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