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WAPA Dedicates St. Croix’s Estate Spanish Town Solar Facility and Gregory E. Willocks Substation
(Monday, October 27, 2014)
On Monday, October 27, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority celebrated the grand opening and dedication of the Gregory E. Willocks Substation and the Estate Spanish Town Solar Facility at mid-Island on St. Croix with ribbon cuttings for both facilities. With the launch of these facilities, the Authority is well on its way to establishing the foundation for a transmission system on St. Croix, and to achieving the goal of 60% reduction in the Territory’s fossil fuel use by 2025.
Recognizing the need to address line loss due to the long distribution feeders from the Estate Richmond Substation to the western end of the island, the Authority began construction of a substation in Estate Spanish Town, in July 2013. The substations are linked by a 69kv transmission line, installed 100% underground from the Richmond Substation to the Willocks Substation. This is the first true transmission circuit in Virgin Islands history, and will allow the Authority to develop future load expansion. The substation was officially dedicated to the memory of Gregory E. Willocks and named in his honor during Monday’s ceremony. Willocks began working with the Authority in 1979, and held several key positions throughout his career at WAPA, to include Director of Water Production & Distribution, Deputy Assistant Director and Assistant Executive Director. He was instrumental in helping the Authority to return to full functioning capacity after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, as well as ensuring that the Authority received one of the first large capacity waste heat recovery boilers at the Estate Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix. “The impact of Greg’s distinguished achievements will be an important part of a legacy at WAPA,” said Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., “and this well-deserved honor commemorates his many years of dedicated service to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.”
Willocks Monument Unveiling
Hodge presented a plaque to Cheryl Willocks, wife of the late Gregory Willocks, on behalf of the WAPA family. Ms. Willocks, along with Greg’s mother Ms. Claudia Willocks, his daughters Gregoreese, Tyhae and Lae-Thea, and many other members, of his immediate and extended family, were in attendance to celebrate the grand occasion. Ms. Willocks helped to cut the ribbon on the Willocks Substation, and to unveil the permanent monument at the entrance to the facility. She extended her deepest appreciation to the Authority for recognizing the accomplishments of her late husband and for ensuring that generations to come will be able to see the facility and know that he played an important role in where WAPA is today.
Willocks Substation Ribbon Cutting
In August 2013, WAPA and Toshiba broke ground for the territory’s first solar farm, also in Estate Spanish Town, adjacent to the new substation. After clearing ground and securing all necessary permits, Toshiba began construction of the 4MW facility in May 2014. In July 2014, NRG Energy, Inc. acquired the solar farm from Toshiba. The facility, which sits on 17 acres in Estate Spanish Town, connects directly to the new Willocks Substation and is estimated to produce over 8,500,000 kwhs. At an annual average of 4800kwhs per household, the facility will provide power to approximately 1800 households. “Like several of the other green energy initiatives the Authority is pursuing, this project will help to lower energy costs for our customers,” said Hodge. “From this day forward we will no longer be able to say we are 100% dependent on fuel oil for power generation.”
In his remarks at Monday’s ceremony, Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. applauded WAPA’s efforts to achieve the territory’s renewable energy goal, and to bring relief to customers. “We had a vision of where we wanted to go and how we wanted to get there,” said Governor deJongh, “and we will definitely reach our goal of 60% reduction in fossil fuel use by 2025.” The Governor congratulated the Willocks’ family and reminisced about his knowledge of Gregory Willocks. He indicated that it was during his tenure as the Chairman of the WAPA Governing Board that Mr. Willocks was appointed Assistant Executive Director of the Authority, and he spoke highly of the man for whom the new substation was named.
STX Solar Farm Ribbon Cutting
Monday’s dedication ceremony is a momentous occasion for the Authority. The solar facility represents less dependence on fossil fuels, which translates to a savings for customers, and the substation helps to enhance system protection and automation. These however, symbolize only the beginning of several milestones for the Authority. By year end, the 4.2MW solar facility in Estate Donoe will be completed, and by the end of first quarter 2015 the Authority’s power plants will be converted to use propane to produce electricity.
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For additional information on the Authority’s projects, visit the Projects page or the www.poweringvi.vi website.