EDIN Brings NREL to St. Thomas
A workshop to establish groups in the Virgin Islands to address energy policy was held June 14-16 on St. Thomas. Governor John P. deJongh Jr. said the U.S. Department of Energy supported the program through its Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) partnership. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) conducted it with assistance from the V.I. Energy Office (VIEO) and the Water and Power Authority (WAPA). “As co-directors of the Virgin Islands Energy Action Team, Bevan Smith Jr., director VIEO, and Hugo Hodge Jr., executive director of WAPA, extended invitations for representatives of several community organizations and public agencies to participate in the workshop being held at the University of the Virgin Islands,” de Jongh said.
The workshop is a continuation of the discussions held at the NREL facilities in Colorado in February with a delegation from the Virgin Islands. At that time, deJongh established a goal of reducing fossil fuel derived energy in the Virgin Islands by 60 percent by 2025.
Four local working groups were established in the areas of Deployment of Renewable Energy, Utility Transmission and Distribution, Energy Efficiency in Buildings and Energy Efficiency in Transportation. The working groups are to provide input and support in the execution of policy initiatives and also facilitate collaboration between public and private sector contributors.
Inter-connect Feasibility to Be Studied
Governor John P. deJongh Jr. recently executed a Memoranda of Agreement to utilize over $594,000 for WAPA to conduct a grid inter-connect feasibility study. The execution of the agreement between the VIEO and WAPA is part of an overall strategy to increase efficiency of energy use and production. The grant is funded by $475,750 from a congressionally-directed project through the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory, whereby $118,938 in matching funds from WAPA, which will study the feasibility of inter-connecting the power grids between St. Thomas and St. Croix, between St. Thomas and Puerto Rico (PR), and between St. John and the British Virgin Islands.
A Request for Proposal has already been issued for release this week. Inter-connecting one or more of these grids provides opportunities for WAPA to reduce its fuel consumption through four strategic approaches. By inter-connecting the grids, WAPA could reduce its spinning reserves, buy power from PR at a rate lower than it can produce, purchase wind power from the BVI and begin to increase the electricity grid that would allow for a higher amount of renewable energy to be incorporated into its generation mix.
Reducing WAPA’s fuel consumption would not only provide a measure of price stability for rate payers but would help the territory move towards meeting the goals that the governor recently announced as part of the Energy Development in Island Nations initiative. The study would select submarine cable types, ensure the feasibility of high voltage direct current (HVDC), analyze the required power system’s new configuration, provide interconnection preliminary cost estimates and conduct a benefits analysis that will evaluate such factors as the system’s reliability, operating costs, future capital investment needs and any other potential benefits of an interconnected system.
Energy Office Taking Part in Frederiksted Town Meeting
VIEO will participate in a town meeting calling for unity, accountability and social justice on from 4-8 p.m. on Saturday, June 26; at the Claude O. Markoe Elementary School. Topics include education, election reform, energy, agriculture and labor.