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WAPA BOARD APPROVES UNDERGROUND FEEDER EXPANSION AND OTHER ITEMS AT MONTHLY MEETING

(Thursday, May 26, 2011)

            The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board took action on several management requests at its monthly meeting today in St. Thomas. The Board approved the extension of St. Croix's underground Feeder # 8 to better serve the Cruzan Rum distillery, authorized negotiations with companies bidding to provide off-island line crews to assist hurricane restoration efforts, if necessary, and approved funds to cover an increase in the cost of gas needed to fuel WAPA's St. Thomas vehicle fleet.

            The Board authorized an amount not to exceed $995,000 to construct an underground electrical duct bank system on St. Croix’s Feeder #8 to serve the Cruzan Rum facility. The distillery is expanding its physical plant and its present power demand from 380kW to 2,500 kW in the future.  Melton Smith, Design and Construction Manager, explained that the duct bank will also hold a future feeder to provide redundancy for the area from a mid-island substation planned for Estate Spanish Town. Currently, Feeder #8 is underground from the plant to the airport and west along the Melvin H. Evans Highway to the Hannah's Rest intersection. Connecting to the underground system at Estate Diamond will increase service reliability to Cruzan Rum, improve power quality, reduce line loss and mitigate the impact of strong storms and hurricanes. The construction will be contracted to GEC, LLC and will be funded by the Authority's series 2010 bond issue.

            In preparation for hurricane season, the Board also authorized the executive director to negotiate and enter into a one year retainer agreement for emergency restoration services after a storm or other natural disaster.  Huston Harrigan, Substation Manager, said that after careful evaluation of six bid responses to a request for proposal, WAPA was recommending negotiations with the most responsive bidders including BBC Electric, Inc. of Kansas, Sumter Utilities Inc. of South Carolina, PowerSecure, Inc. of Georgia, and Bison Electric, Inc. of Oklahoma. The companies will be expected to supply manpower, and equipment to supplement the existing resources of WAPA's line departments. Harrigan said that local companies are encouraged each year to submit bids but tend to be hesitant to do so because of limited manpower and equipment resources. Board Chair Juanita Young observed that off-island companies selected for retainer agreements are usually located in places that may not be impacted by the same weather systems that pass through the Caribbean and would be able to mobilize more quickly, if needed.

            Norris Griffin, Corporate Services Director, sought the Board's approval for a supplement to a purchase order with Total Petroleum which supplies and delivers fuel for the Authority's St. Thomas vehicle fleet.  Because of the increase in gas prices, the utility has a shortfall in the previously budgeted amount of $190,000. Board members voted to increase the purchase order amount by $81,500 to a total of $271,500. Griffin said that he anticipates the increase allowance will cover costs until the end of WAPA's fiscal year on June 30.

            Chief Financial Officer Joseph Boschulte, who is acting executive director while Hugo V.Hodge, Jr. is out of the territory on official business, reported that the Authority's FY 2012 budget will be forwarded to Board members by June 2 for review by the finance committee on June 9,  and by the full Board on June 23 prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1.  He also reported that WAPA issued a solar energy RFP last week seeking 10 MGWof generation.  Proposal packages were mailed to 34 companies and can also be found on the Authority's website at www.viwapa.vi.

            Young introduced Karl Knight, recently appointed Director of the Virgin Islands Energy Office, as the newest Board member replacing Kenneth Hermon, Jr., V.I. Personnel Director.  Also attending the meeting were Finance Chair and Secretary Noel Loftus, Donald Francois, Brenda Benjamin, and Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes. Excused were Atty. Gerald Groner, Cheryl Boynes Jackson, and Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Wayne Biggs.

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