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WAPA's St. Croix Heat Recovery Steam Project Experiencing Delays

(Friday, January 09, 2009)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s newest Unit #24, under construction in the Richmond Power Plant, has experienced some delays resulting in a revised completion schedule WAPA’s Executive Director, Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., announced today. The delay in commissioning the unit could be as much as six more months, Hodge said, based on scheduling forecasts issued by Islands Mechanical Contractor (IMC), the installation contractor responsible for bringing the project to mechanical completion. Unit #24 is the Heat Recovery Steam Generator which will help to reduce fuel consumption and improve efficiency in the Richmond plant by capturing the energy normally exhausted into the air from two gas turbines and recycling it to generate steam for water and power production

Hodge said that WAPA is cautiously optimistic that IMC will be able to improve upon the length of the delay and continues to work with the company to identify where timeline adjustments can be made without jeopardizing the integrity of the project. The causes for the schedule revisions have been many and varied, project coordinators have indicated, but obtaining raw materials to site delivery of finished goods has been the single-most significant contributor to the delay in completing the project. Boiler components manufactured in Korea, Thailand and China, stacks and ductwork from Italy, and major electrical equipment from Brazil and Mexico were delayed by as much as three to four months due to issues of raw materials availability and shipping coordination on a world wide basis. Late or lost delivery of steam piping, control valves, pipe supports, pumps, transformers, high voltage cable and instrument systems of three to five months have not been uncommon. Interruptions from Hurricane Omar and an accident involving a crane leased by IMC also contributed schedule delays..

Hodge said while the project was planned with contingency, the magnitude of the delays has been of major concern. He reiterated that putting the boiler into commercial operation in the coming months is a top priority for his technical team. Hodge also confirmed that there have been no major costs overruns. The project, at a cost of $36 million, was funded as part of a $57.5 million bond issuance in 2007 to support an aggressive five year capital improvement plan.

WAPA operates one other heat recovery steam generator in the Richmond Plant and one in St. Thomas’ Harley Plant which save the utility more than $12 million in fuel costs annually based on current fuel prices.