During the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s board meeting Thursday, time extensions were granted to two ongoing projects that will greatly benefit residents on St. John.
WAPA design construction manager, Cordell Jacob, asked the governing board for a no-cost time extension for the Haugland-Cruz Bay Underground Switchgear project.
“We’re asking to extend the contract to July 2nd. This will give the contract time for the work to be done and the switchgear to be installed so the switchgear can be start up and commissioned,” said Jacob.
The project will replace WAPA’s overhead infrastructure with underground infrastructure, essentially ensuring quicker recovery efforts in the event of power disruption on St. John.
Currently, operations are being conducted in Cruz Bay, but future work will occur in Centerline Road all the way up to the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center and the Southside Road.
“The benefit is less restoration, quicker restoration times in wind-storm events, and overall increased reliability,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs added that another extension might be required in the future due to archaeological work, but he is presently not quite certain.
“We still have the upcoming archeological work, and we can’t really gauge that all the way because it just depends on what happens when we start to remove the human remains, but right now, we expect everything to be done at the beginning of July,” said Jacobs.
Chavante Marsh, acting substations manager for WAPA, expressed the need for a time extension for the Haugland Energy East End Substation Phase 2 project. With the completion of the project, the transmission system at East End will be restored, and there will be “returned redundancy” to transmission lines going to St. John, according to Marsh.
“So in the event of any major transmission line outages going to St. John or any maintenance, St. John will not be without power,” said Marsh.
During her presentation, she explained how critical the East End Substation is for not just St. John but St. Thomas as well.
“Without the East End Substation, the system is unbalanced, and the Donald Francois and Tutu Substations must carry the load of the middle and eastern sides of the island,” she said.
The first phase of the project was completed in July 2020, with the transmission system for the substation becoming energized and placed online. Phase two began in November 2021 and is working towards installing gas-insulated switchgears. However, additional time is needed to safely test and commission the relays and meters.
Marsh said that the project is 90% covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the remaining ten percent is covered by local cost-share funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A time extension of 89 days was provided for the project. April 30, 2022, was the extension date provided.
New WAPA chief executive officer, Andrew Smith, addressed the board and said that “I do see a really bright future for us as a company. I know we have a number of challenges, but I believe all of those challenges are addressable.”
In other business, the board:
- Unanimously voted to grant two individuals in either the executive director, chief financial officer, chief operation officer of the electric or water division, director of pricing and rates, and or chief administrative officers acting in those capacities, the authority to sign checks in the amount of $10,000 or more.
- Unanimously voted to extend their provisional lines of credit at the Banco Popular and First Bank institutions.
Board members present for the meeting were Kyle Fleming, Hubert Turnbull, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, Anthony Thomas, Joel Lee, and Juanita Young.