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WAPA, Main Street Power and Morgan Stanley Commission Solar Photovoltaic Project

(Wednesday, February 25, 2015)

WAPA, MAIN STREET POWER AND MORGAN STANLEY COMMISSION SOLAR PHOTOVOLTAIC PROJECT AT ESTATE DONOE ON ST. THOMAS

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and Main Street Power Company today hosted dedication ceremonies for a new solar power generation plant in Estate Donoe on St. Thomas. The new facility, which during testing peaked at 4.2 megawatts, will provide as much as four to five percent of the island’s current base load capacity during daylight hours.

In remarks this morning, WAPA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. said the addition of the solar farm and a similar installation on St. Croix which was dedicated in 2014 continues the authority’s effort to diversify its generation resources. “We are one of a handful of islands in the Caribbean region that can proudly say that we no longer depend on 100% fuel oil to generate electricity for our residents and businesses. Our efforts continue to complete the propane fuel conversion in both districts and we will continue to add solar, propane and other fuel types along with some wind and biomass as is feasible.”

Hodge reiterated WAPA’s ultimate goal is to provide “reliable electrical and water service to our rate-payers at the most affordable rates.”
Other speakers on the program included lifelong WAPA Engineer Donald Francois, a member of the Governing Board, as well as principals of Main Street Power and Morgan Stanley. A cross-section of community and government leaders witnessed today’s dedication and commissioning of the solar power generation plant.

A 25-year solar power purchase agreement between WAPA and Main Street Power is part of the utility’s strategy to deploy solar, propane and other renewables to reduce ratepayer costs. Main Street Power will manage the operations and maintenance of the facility for the duration of the agreement, in partnership with WAPA.

Hodge also used his remarks to pay tribute to the WAPA family and asked for a moment of silence in memory of 24-year-old Jama Rhymer, an employee in the Water Division on St. Thomas, who died tragically in an automobile accident on Sunday. Rhymer is the son of WAPA Chief Operating Officer, Gregory R. Rhymer.

“Today is difficult for many of us. It is bittersweet. We have a major accomplishment to celebrate with the commissioning of this solar plant but our celebration is tinged as we have lost one of our own.”
He also spoke of the “human element” that is the Water and Power Authority. “Sometimes you find that in some sectors WAPA is viewed as some robotic operation. To the contrary, it is human beings who are dedicated and committed who make the authority what it is. The same people that were here at 8 am today setting up for this event were on the streets of Sub Base at 5 this morning assisting with traffic control and other duties related to the movement of our propane storage tanks. Some that are here to witness this dedication have been at work in the electrical and water plants since midnight last night. This is what the public does not see, but as Director I appreciate each and every one of them—they are the WAPA family.”

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