Residential net metering customers with less than 10-kilowatt solar systems selling power to the V.I. Water and Power Authority will continue to get maximum full-price net metering payments after 2025, if a bill approved in committee Tuesday becomes law.
The Rules and Judiciary Committee also approved bills affecting marine tourism and authorizing a feasibility study, and sent on the nomination of Dawn Henry for commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources, and a bill to create an excavation notice center (See Related Links.)
When the net-metering bill was considered in committee, WAPA officials testified against extending full price net metering beyond 2025, saying that in the long run, the territory’s less well off ratepayers end up paying more to subsidize those who can afford solar systems for net metering. (See Related Links below.)
Another measure, sponsored by Sens. Janette Millin Young and Clifford Graham, would require the Tourism Department to "hire employees, subject to the availability of funds," to promote marine tourism and develop a marine tourism plan. There is no funding for the legislation’s mandates. (Bill 31-0017)
The other, sponsored by Sen. Myron Jackson, would mandate the Agriculture Department to do a feasibility study on establishing a St. Croix plant for processing local fruits and agriculture products and a satellite plant on St. Thomas. (Bill 31-0055) This measure includes a $75,000 appropriation from the V.I. General Fund.
The territory is in the midst of a severe budget shortfall, with about $133 million in existing appropriations now unfunded due to insufficient revenues, creating questions about whether the Finance Department would be likely to allocate this new appropriation ahead of existing ones.
The Rules Committee also heard from attorney Dawn Henry, Gov. Kenneth Mapp’s nominee for commissioner of DPNR, and sent her nomination on for a final vote.
Henry has worked as legal counsel for DPNR’s Division of Environmental Protection for the last 10 years. In that role, she drafted more than 250 notices of violation which brought in about $400,000 in penalties, according to her nomination announcement.
She has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma, where she also received her law degree.
Sen. Neville James asked if DPNR will create a comprehensive land and water plan on her watch
“That is something that I will pursue in my leadership. We have a foundation for zoning laws. DPNR will review it and begin the process of drafting the Comprehensive Land and Water Plan," she said.
The committee voted unanimously to send on these three bills and Henry’s nomination. All members were present.