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(Friday, January 27, 2012)


The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board convened today on St. Thomas for its monthly meeting, where Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge Jr. updated the board on the current process of finding a new fuel supplier. Hodge said a list of potential suppliers that service various parts of the region is being assembled. “We have already compiled a list of seven, but we’ve received solicitations from dozens of companies,” said Hodge. “There is a lot of interest in this account.” Once the inquiries come in, Hodge said the companies are vetted based on supply, the specifications of the fuel they carry, the quantity in and the location of their storage, etc. “We’re doing something we haven’t done in over 40 years, which is finding a new fuel supplier,” said Hodge. “We have a lot of good leads and I am confident we will have no problem securing a fuel supply by the June 30 deadline.”

Hodge also gave an update on the ongoing solar RFP negotiations, apprising the board of the meetings that took place last week with some of the short-listed solar companies. “We expect to be able to complete this process by June; with negotiations being completed by April and Public Service Commission approval by June.” Hodge says if that takes place, he expects to have the first set of solar arrays, which is a group of solar panels, on the ground and hooked into WAPA’s grid by the first quarter in 2013.

In other board meeting matters, the board approved funds for payment to Electric Supply of Tampa, in the amount of $239,000, to supply electrical material for the market square underground project. The relocation of the distribution lines to underground improves the reliability of the electrical power in the market square and main street areas, as the lines will be protected from climatic disturbances and will promote quick restoration after such events. A change order for an increase in project time was approved for the Anna’s Hope Waterline Rehabilitation project. The new date of completion is May 4, 2012. Once the project is finished, it will improve the efficiency of the water distribution system by replacing deteriorated water lines in the Anna’s Hope area. The board also authorized the CEO to dispose of any tangible property owned by the Authority, which is not currently needed, nor will be in the foreseeable future. Previously, the Authority would have to request both the Board’s Committee and the full Board for approval to dispose of items such as damaged office furniture, old poles and transformers, as well as used computers. This approval will save valuable time on the Authority’s and the Board’s behalf.

Other approved agenda items include: 

  • An additional $220,000 for the stack testing project at the Estate Richmond Facility, to reflect a total approved amount of $625,000. The additional funding is necessary for the Authority to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency order and to meet permitting requirements with the Department of Planning and Natural Resources Title V.
  • Authorization for the Executive Director to obtain the Authority’s liability insurance coverage for the period of January 31, 2012 through March 1, 2012 from Tunick Insurance for a premium of $109,465. The Authority continues to have several large liability claims, so it is imperative that there is insurance coverage to assist the Authority in financing the lawsuit claims that result from accidents that occur. Because of these large claims, the Authority’s deductible has increased from $200,000 to $500,000. The authorized funding will pay for a one month extension of the present policy to allow the Authority time to consider alternatives.
  • Emergency inspection and repairs of Unit #13 Steam Turbine to allow the unit to return to operation and to increase power generation capacity at the Randolph Harley Power Plant. 

In the WAPA Working for You segment of the agenda, board members and the public have the opportunity to get acquainted with the various aspects of employee responsibilities, and employees about how the board functions. At today’s meeting, Kisha Sprauve, an Accountant II in the Budget and Cash Division, explained how she worked her way up from an Account Clerk to her current position during her 10+ years at the Authority.  Sprauve explained that the Budget and Cash Division is separated into two sections: the budget side and the cash side. Her responsibilities at WAPA include analyzing variance reports, justifying account balances and ensuring there is available funding for purchase requisitions. The variance report, which Sprauve described as the bible for every department head at the Authority, gives a preview of the department’s current balance, what the department has spent for the month, actuals and line item balances. Sprauve says she is also charged with preparing the fiscal year budget, which she is currently in the process of doing. “I love my work,” said Sprauve. “I love interacting with all the employees; this is my family.”

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