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Sunday, June 23, 2024
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WAPA Looks to Boost Generating Fleet

At their meeting Thursday, members of the V.I. Water and Power Authority approved measures that would boost the authority’s generation fleet.

The units would “stabilize” power on St. Thomas, board members said during a meeting on St. Thomas, adding that Unit 23 – which WAPA has said is its “workhorse” generator – is “limping along” and adding new units could protect against rolling blackouts.

With the approval of the generation plan, WAPA would be able to meet its peak load demand, especially when major repairs are needed, and prevent forced outages on other generators at the Randolph Harley Power Plant. With the action plan approved, the board also approved a $350,000 contract with Wartsila North America for a basic engineering agreement that would allow WAPA to acquire the three small units.

WAPA’s senior management met with  company representatives early in September and saw the need for a basic engineering agreement that would help outline the scope of the project, the addition of a 21-megawatt propane powered power plant made up of the three new units – at Randolph Harley.

“The preliminary engineering work, which will be completed in a six-week period, will clearly define the precise parameters of the project,” WAPA Executive Director Julio Rhymer said. “We expect that it will expedite and accelerate the installation of the facilities, mitigate permitting risks and delays, ensure the lowest contract price for the plant and minimize change orders from unanticipated conditions that could increase the cost of and potentially delay this project.”

In other news, the board:

– Approved amendments to the authority’s bylaws, reorganizing the structure of WAPA’s officers. According to the amendments, new officers are chief executive officer, chief operating officer of electrical operations, chief administrative officer, chief financial officer, general counsel, and chief operating officer of water operations;

– Authorized a $3.2 million contract with GEC LLC for the completion of the purchase and installation of a 24-inch water main and four pressure reducing valve stations on St. Croix. The project should take six months to complete and will replace and upgrade the existing and aged ductile iron water main and help with discolored water in the area. Rhymer said Thursday that the contract falls within the second phase of the already installed pressure management project that is meant to reduce water pressure in areas that are over-pressurized and create a float distribution system where all of the major valves will operate in the open position;

– Approved a contract extension for work now underway on St. Croix’s Unit 11 gas turbine. The extension increases the time and cost of the project; a revised scope of work was required to complete major repairs on the unit. The cost of the project is $1.5 million (which includes an additional $95,000 to ensure completion);

– Approved the disposal of a waste heat recovery unit now in storage on the U.S. mainland. The unit was purchased two years ago but is no longer needed, board members said; and

– Approved a cost increase and time extension on an existing contract with Control System Technologies. The company is providing technical assistance and project oversight for the upgrade of controls associated with seven of WAPA’s gas turbine generators at both power plants. The generators have been converted to tri-fuel operation allowing them to use oil, propane or natural gas in the generation of electricity.

Board members Elizabeth Armstrong, Noel Loftus, Secretary Juanita Young, Gustav James, Marvin Pickering, Gerald Groner and Cheryl Boynes Jackson attended the meeting.

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