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WAPA ANNOUNCES $600,000 GRANT AWARD FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

(Thursday, September 22, 2011)

            With the approval of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s governing board, Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. signed off today, at their monthly meeting, on a notification of a two-year grant award in the amount of $594,820 from the Department of the Interior.  The grant will assist the utility in the implementation of its Energy Service Business Unit (ESBU).  The main goal of the unit will be to assist WAPA customers implement energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  Hodge says the funds will be available to establish the ESBU next month and, once established, the service will first be extended to commercial customers as they will realize the greatest benefits from the energy audits to be performed and the retrofits that will be made.  Hodge said the ESBU will be a value-added service for all WAPA customers.

            Two action items were approved at the meeting; the first was the purchase of Volume Licensing for Microsoft products from Soft Mart.  Dalma Simon, WAPA’s Network Manager explained that the purchase of the license will allow the Authority to have access to the latest software versions and future releases, technical support and greater security. The license includes training credits redeemable for Microsoft classes and certifications for WAPA’s information technology staff.  The three year purchase price will amount to $617,416. 

            Every year the Authority requests bid proposals to provide emergency and supplemental maintenance service in the power plants.  In today’s meeting, the board approved the awarding of two contracts, for these services, not to exceed $250,000 each, to GEC, LLC for the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix and Rock Fuel Express for the Randolph E. Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas.  The contracts will provide manpower and other technical services to supplement the Authority’s workforce in the event of an emergency.  This resource will ensure the generating facilities on each island remain fully operational, avoid inflated costs associated with non-contracted work, and provide a quick turnaround during scheduled and emergency outages. 

          Board Chair Juanita Young introduced the new monthly agenda item entitled, WAPA Working for You.  Each month the board will hear a brief presentation from a WAPA employee about their daily responsibilities.  Young explained that the board will have an opportunity to learn more about the various utility functions and the employee will learn more about how the board functions and sets policies at their monthly meetings.  The first presenter in the new series was Kevin Harrigan, Instrumentation and Control System Analyst at the Harley power plant.  He informed the board of his daily duties, which includes monitoring the control systems for proper maintenance, troubleshooting problems that may occur with generators or boilers and analyzing data from various plant events that cause outages in order to prevent such occurrences in the future.  Harrigan, who has worked at WAPA for the last five years and began as a lineman apprentice, studied computer electronics engineering technology.  Board member and professional engineer Donald Francois told Harrigan he was impressed by his knowledge and encouraged him to further his studies in the field of electronic engineering.  Executive Director Hodge said Harrigan is just one of WAPA’s dedicated employees and looks forward to introducing the board to other employees who will speak of their job responsibilities each month. 

            In his Executive Director’s report, Hodge spoke about the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) Renewable Energy Forum and the meeting of the CARILEC board that both took place in the territory this week.  Hodge said the forum highlighted the fact that the current challenges faced are not isolated to the Virgin Islands, but instead is shared with the Caribbean region.  The sessions at the forum focused on ideas the region could tackle as a body to eliminate our shared dependency on fossil fuel.  “These situations we’re in are far from easy to conquer,” said Hodge.  “It’s going to take all of the expertise in the region to come up with a solution to viably curtail the problems in a sustainable manner.”   

            Attending were Young; Francois; Atty. Gerald Groner, Vice-Chair; Noel Loftus, Secretary; Licensing and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Wayne Biggs; Energy Office Director Karl Knight and Cheryl Boynes-Jackson. Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes and Brenda Benjamin were excused.