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(Friday, April 29, 2011)


        The Virgin Islands Water and Power Governing Board convened its monthly meeting on St. Croix today to authorize a waterline rehabilitation project and to approve change orders and extensions to several existing capital improvement contracts.


        Juanita R. Young, Governing Board Chair, guided members through the agenda as Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., and other members of the management and engineering teams presented the projects for discussion.  The Board took the following actions:


Amended the amount originally authorized in November, 2010 of  $1,547,159 to $532,676  for purchase of consumable, capital and auxiliary equipment parts from  General Electric, the original equipment manufacturer,  for the major overhaul of  combustion turbine Unit #15 in St. Thomas’ Randolph E. Harley Power Plant. The Board also approved extending project completion from January to July 2011.


Approved a change order decreasing the cost of St. Croix’s Pressure Management Phase I Water Project by $14,047.  Project Manager Cara Pascal, explained that the project has provided pressure reducing valves at key areas throughout the island. However, new housing construction in the Estate Paradise area has necessitated a change in WAPA’s original scope of work and valve installation is no longer necessary. The Authority saved $55,162 and used $41,116 of that amount for maintenance and other system repairs. Water Director Rupert Pelle, said that a decision will be made about how to utilize the remaining funds before the grant period expires at the end of the year. The original project cost at $852, 000 is funded through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant of $746,844 and WAPA’s capital improvement budget at $105,156. 



Authorized the implementation of the Anna’s Hope Waterline Rehabilitation Project to replace deteriorated water lines and improve the efficiency of the water distribution system on St. Croix . Rotating Equipment, Inc. will be contracted to install 1700 linear feet of pipe at a cost not to exceed $535,506 funded through grants awarded by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources. Project completion is estimated for September 2011.



Granted a five month extension to WMK Mechanical Group, LLC to complete the design, purchase, construction and installation of four metal air conditioned insulated buildings to house the East End and Tutu Substations’ 15kV and 34kV switchgears located at Estate Nazareth and Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.  Clinton Hedrington, Director of Transmission and Distribution, explained that the work was initially delayed due to several storms last November.  The most recent delay will allow design revisions and approval of permits by the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.  The project, at a cost of $397,620 should be completed by August with no additional costs to the utility anticipated.  



Approved $1200 to cover additional expenses for utilities included in an annual lease agreement for a housing unit utilized by the executive director or other staff  with territorial responsibilities who must travel weekly from St. Thomas to do business on St. Croix.  Hodge explained that the lease of a unit is highly cost-effective as compared to nightly hotel rates and per diem costs.



Authorized the executive director to negotiate with Banco Popular de Puerto Rico and enter into a six-month extension of the $3,000,000 general obligation note line of credit  that serves as collateral for the Authority’s fuel hedging program initiated in 2007.  The credit facility was initially put in place to cover fuel-hedging transactions that may have accrued loss to the utility. WAPA used fuel hedging several years ago to help cap fuel costs and limit its exposure to volatile prices. WAPA is not presently fuel hedging and will return to the governing board for authorization if  fluctuations in fuel oil prices indicate that hedging would be beneficial. .


        Hodge also spoke of the problems that the St. Thomas power plant has experienced over the last week forcing rotating outages due to problems with gas turbine Unit #23, including a small oil leak last night and a breaker malfunction this morning. Both have been repaired.  With the recently overhauled gas turbine Unit #18 to come online by this weekend, and steam turbine Unit #13 soon after, Hodge anticipates that WAPA will be able to meet customers’ demand for power during Carnival week. He thanked the community for its patience and urged customers to continue to conserve power and water in their homes and businesses.


        Governing board members attending were Young, Finance Committee Chairman Noel Loftus, Brenda Benjamin, Consumer and Licensing Affairs Commissioner Wayne Biggs, Jr., Personnel Director, Kenneth Hermon, Jr., and Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes. Members Donald Francois, Gerald Groner and Cheryl Boynes Jackson were excused.