The governing board of the V. I. Water and Power Authority met Thursday and approved expenditures for staff training and software for the maintenance departments with the least expensive item causing the most back-and-forth discussion between the board and staff.
After hearing that the liquid petroleum gas safety training for workers at both power plants – already priced at almost $240,000 – was increasing by more than $200,000 to complete it by the end of June instead of July, Gustav James, Public Works commissioner – designee, started asking questions. Other board members also had questions about the increase and timing.
“The training addresses applicable regulatory requirements at both the local and federal levels and is the best industry practice with respect to the relevant safety hazards associated with the presence and handling of LPG at the Harley and Richmond power plants,” said Vernon Alexander, director of Special Projects, who presented the request.
The classes and videos will include safety training during pre-commissioning and commissioning of propane, job safety, and training on operation and maintenance of safety equipment.
“The training is not being compressed, the time to prepare the training is being compressed. If we don’t expedite the training, it will become a critical path,” said Hugo Hodge, WAPA executive director.
Board member Elizabeth Armstrong then wanted to know how much it would cost WAPA to postpone converting from fuel oil for five weeks while the staff was trained. James added that he wanted to know why it was critical and if the conversion was on target for the end of June otherwise.
Armstrong insisted and Hodge said they would calculate the cost. The project “appears to be on line,” but there are no “guarantees,” he said.
WAPA staff reported that in five weeks converting to propane at the end of June would save $2.6 million.
Alexander said he received the rate increase Wednesday night and had not had time to put it in writing. The board asked him to resubmit the request with the correct numbers in writing. After executive session, all but James, who abstained, voted in favor of the 14-week $462,444 bill for safety training.
The other funding request, approved unanimously, was for an additional $177,200 and $22,000 for contingencies to complete the software update to track inventory, maintenance scheduling, work orders and produce EPA reports for the Richmond and Randolph Harley plants. The total cost to upgrade the computerized maintenance management system Maximo 6.5 to 7.5 will be $769, 807.
During the director’s report, Hodge talked about the 15-hour power outage that covered St. Croix on Saturday. He explained that the initial fault in the switchgear that primarily feeds the utility’s station service and water distribution caused an overcurrent and subsequently a surge, shutting down water and power service. The initial cause could have been moisture or a loose conductor. It took crews until late Sunday morning to fix the entire problem, according to Hodge.
When an interruption occurs, regardless of the length of the interruption, a report is prepared for Hodge indicating the possible causes, what steps were taken to rectify the problem, and what steps will be taken to prevent the same thing happening in the future.
James requested a copy of the report.
Before adjourning, the board went into executive session to discuss a legal matter.
Board members who attended the meeting were James, Armstrong, Chairman Gerald Groner, Juanita Young, Noel Loftus, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson and Marvin Pickering, director-designee of the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue.