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WAPA Board Approves Phase II of Midland Substation Project

(Friday, August 30, 2013)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board on Thursday authorized Phase II of the St. Croix Midland Substation project which is projected to bring greater service reliability to the customers on the western end of the island. The substation will facilitate the interconnection of the first underground transmission line in the territory which will run from Estate Richmond to mid-island at Estate Spanish Town.   The substation will also allow for the interconnection of the new solar farm into the grid when completed next year. Phase I of the project for the purchase of equipment was approved by the Board in June of 2011 and awarded to Dashiell Corporation. The second phase of this project which is also awarded to Dashiell Corporation will not exceed $2,276,115.  Also approved was $337,236.92 for the purchase, installation and commissioning of a 25kV breaker cubicle bringing the total cost to $2,613.352. 

 Board Chair, Attorney Gerald Groner noted that completion of the Midland Substation will be a major step forward for the production and distribution of power on St. Croix.  With the substation in the middle of the island power can be distributed to the west end of the island with less voltage drops and substantially less line loss.  “This is an example of forward thinking,” said Groner, “and we’re providing this with state of the art technology.” The project is estimated to be completed by December 2014.

 The Board also approved funding to contract Apex Covantage to provide meter/module installation and project management services as part of the Authority’s new Tantalus AMI system deployment. The Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) system will replace all of WAPA’s mechanical meters with new AMI meters.  The project is an essential part of addressing the challenges of the utility to improve operational efficiency, increase customer satisfaction, reduce energy theft and improve the billing process. It will implement meter reading from the office allowing the customer service representatives to have the information at their fingertips, reduce meter tampering, quickly identify faults in the system, and lay the communications ground work for a smart grid to allow customers to control costs by monitoring real time energy usage in their homes and businesses.  Completion of this project at a cost of $1,554,801is estimated for December 2014.

 In Thursday’s “WAPA Working for You” segment the Board heard from employees Don Gregoire and Deichelle Berry about the Authority’s commitment to improving the quality of life in the Virgin Islands through service to local schools. Gregoire and Berry showed a PowerPoint presentation which highlighted past projects as well as the recent cleanup efforts at the Authority’s two adopted schools, Ulla Muller Elementary School on St. Thomas and the Juanita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix. On this past Saturday August 24, employees in both island districts volunteered to clean and refurbish equipment and classrooms at both schools to ready the institutions for the new school year.  At Gardine, WAPA donated an ID machine that will help the school conform with the new policy requiring student identification cards.  Plans are also underway to repair and refurbish the school’s gymnasium. At Muller, WAPA will sponsor the math and science lab, and will meet with the principal, parents and teachers on Friday, September 6 to have an official adoption presentation.  As part of its giving program, WAPA helps schools with projects to include science and STEM fairs, academic and science competitions, educational trips, school supplies, books, school equipment and Speaker Bureau presentations.   

 In his monthly report, Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. updated the Board on the progress of the conversion to propane project.  Some of the updates noted in his report were: 

 • Order has been placed for the mounded tanks

 • Fabrication for the storage vessels will be completed by April

 • Typographical surveys are complete

 • Dock inspections are complete

 • Permit applications are in process – WAPA has already met with the Coast Guard

 • Construction permits should be complete by late November/early December

 Hodge told the members that while this is a complex project, the Authority is well equipped to bring it to fruition and everything is moving according to plans.

 The Board also took the following action:

 • Approved $45,000 for KEMA Consulting Services to conduct Interconnection Studies for six PV (Photovoltaic) sites based on the solar request for proposal.  The total project is now $230,990. 

 • Authorized the approval of $2,926,100 for Hamon Deltak, Inc. to perform engineering, design and fabrication of boiler panels, burners, drums and generator tubes  for use in Unit #21 – the heat recovery steam generator- at the Randolph Harley Power Plant.  The work will allow for combined cycle operation to improve fuel and operational efficiency. This project will save the Authority approximately $34 million per year.

 • Approved a resolution allowing WAPA to enter into avoided costs power purchase agreements instead of fixed cost agreements with qualifying cogeneration facilities or qualifying small power production facilities unless the fixed cost agreement is at a rate that is well below the Authority’s projected avoided cost—the cost at which the utility would produce the same amount of energy..  This resolution precludes the Authority from entering into long term power purchase contracts at a fixed cost where the fixed cost rate could potentially exceed the Authority’s avoided costs resulting in higher customer rates.

 • Authorized funding of $843,239 to contract Power Systems Engineering (PSE) to provide consulting services for management and procurement of smart grid project and technologies and to pay for services rendered earlier this year.

 • Approved a contract for $561,900 with V.I. Paving to complete the 24-inch Richmond Transmission Water line upgrade from a severely deteriorated 16 inch line. This project will also significantly improve the water quality to customers, reduce line loss caused by an aging pipeline and increase the reliability of the Richmond pump station.

 • Authorized legal, technical and professional services related to the Authority’s conversion of its generating facilities from fuel oil to LNG and LPG/propane in an amount not to exceed $1,000,000.

 • Authorized the Authority to amend a contract with Public Resources Management Group (PRMG), Inc. for an increase of $125,000 to fund essential professional and financial services.  PRMG consultants are nationally recognized for their assessments of utilities, rates, finances and public management.

 • Approved revisions to the Authority’s Personnel Policy to streamline the disciplinary process to enable prompt resolution to violations of its policies and procedures.  

 • Authorized the Authority to pay external auditors Ernst & Young a total of $289,905 for additional billing hours incurred while completing the fiscal years 2011 and 2012 audits for the Authority.  Paying Ernst & Young will allow the external auditors to issue outstanding audit documentation to the Authority’s newly awarded external auditing firm, BDO, in order to begin preparation and work on the fiscal year 2013 audit.

 Board members in attendance at Thursday’s meeting were Chairman Gerald Groner, Vice Chair Juanita R. Young, Secretary Noel Loftus, Planning Committee Chair VIEO Director Karl Knight, Cheryl Boynes Jackson and Elizabeth Armstrong. Donald Francois, Planning and Natural Resources Commissioner Alicia Barnes and Licensing and Consumer Commissioner Wayne Biggs were excused.