WAPA OKs Resolution for $75 Million Community Disaster Loan

WAPA Executive Director Julio Rhymer
WAPA Executive Director Julio Rhymer. (File photo)

The governing board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority on Wednesday authorized Executive Director Julio Rhymer Sr. to apply for a $75 million FEMA Community Disaster Loan.

The unanimous action came at an emergency meeting on St. Thomas.

“The loan represents our projected revenue loss on existing essential functions of WAPA’s operations,” Rhymer told the board members. “Should we receive approval for this loan, the funding will be drawn down from the date of approval until July 2018, as conditions require.”

The term of the loan is for 16 years. Repayment will begin on Oct. 1. The interest rate will be equivalent to the current market yields on similar obligations of the U.S. government as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.

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An interest rate will be determined separately for each drawdown.

Eligible uses of funds from the loan include operations and essential services such as payroll and benefits, facility maintenance costs that are not capital projects or infrastructure improvements, non-reimbursed disaster related expenses, and normal operational material, supplies, vendor and service payments.

Rhymer told board members that not only did the pair of hurricanes decimate WAPA’s electrical transmission and distribution systems, which are at the heart of the ongoing restoration effort, but the hurricanes also wreaked havoc on WAPA’s finances. The effect of the storms has left the authority unable to bill the majority of its customers for the two months since Hurricane Irma on September 6.

“We have seen monthly billing of more than $26 million trickle down to under $2 million,” Rhymer said.

Board members present included: Chairwoman Elizabeth Armstrong, Vice Chair Noel Loftus, Secretary Juanita Young and Gerald T. Groner, Esq., Cheryl-Boynes Jackson, Director Marvin Pickering and Hubert Turnbull. Commissioner Devin Carrington was excused.

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