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WAPA Board Approves Purchases for Generator Overhaul

(Thursday, January 23, 2014)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Governing Board on Thursday approved the purchase of replacement parts for the major overhaul of generating unit #17.  The gas turbine unit is in line for scheduled maintenance, and while down will be reconfigured to accommodate the switch to propane scheduled for the last quarter of 2014.  Approving the purchase of these parts reduces the lead time and the overall down time of the unit during overhaul.  The purchases approved by the board include a gas turbine first stage nozzle from ACT Independent Turbo Services, Inc. at a cost of $217,000; and one set of first stage shroud blocks, one set of combustion liners, one set of transition pieces, one set of first stage buckets and a first stage nozzle support ring from GENEX at a total of $270,705.

The Board also took the following actions:

• Approved a one-year contractual agreement at $350,000 with BDO as the independent external auditors to perform the Authority’s audit for the period ending June 2014. In June 2013, the board authorized a one-year agreement with BDO, with a one-year renewal option, to perform the audit for the period ending June 30, 2013. BDO completed the audit in a timely and efficient manner allowing the Authority to become compliant with bond covenant.  Thursday’s authorization was for the one-year renewal.

• Authorized the establishment of separate bank accounts for Other Post Employee Benefits (OPEB), VIenergize Services and Fuel Tax.  By order of the Public Services Commission (PSC) the OPEB funds must be segregated, and in order for the Authority to reduce its OPEB liability the funds will need to be invested.  VIenergize Services is a recently created business unit within the Authority that would provide consumers with resources which will assist in reducing their energy and water consumption. This unit is intended to be self-funded through its business initiatives. The Fuel Tax fund is restricted by Acts 7360 and 7574 to purchases of new or conversion of existing generating units.

• Approved amendments to sections 1 and 2 of the Governing Board by-laws to make them consistent with the recent restructuring of the Authority’s Executive Management staff.  . The restructuring allows the executive director to better manage the departments which are essential to the Authority’s mandate to provide water and power to the territory’s businesses and residents.

In Thursday’s “WAPA Working for You” segment, board members heard from Mr. Don Gregoire, the Authority’s Preventive Maintenance (PM) Supervisor on St. Croix, about the importance of preventive and predictive maintenance.  Gregoire explained that staying on top of the equipment maintenance schedules ensures that the Authority does not fall into the “corrective maintenance” category.  He indicated the Authority has set critical stages which are early in the equipment’s life span, to address any foreseen maintenance issues, at a cost savings for the authority and to bring continued relief to customers.  Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., noted the success of the Authority’s preventive maintenance program.  “It is evident that our preventive maintenance initiatives are working,” said Hodge, “because we are now taking our units down on our own for preventive maintenance rather than the units shutting down on their own.”

In his monthly Director’s Report, Hodge spoke of the building excitement throughout the industry over the LPG conversion project underway at WAPA. “Our propane project is the most talked about project in the region,” said Hodge.  “We are charting new territory,” he continued, “in what many see as the true relief from the volatile fuel oil prices for this region.” He mentioned he has received calls from individuals in Africa, the Dominican Republic and even Panama who want to visit the Authority to witness the propane conversion project, which has been termed “the game changer”. The conversion project is scheduled to be completed by the last quarter of 2014.

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

For additional information about WAPA’s initiatives visit viwapa.vi or poweringvi.vi.

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