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WAPA Board Takes Action Thursday to Ensure Continued Work on Generator and Uninterrupted Fuel Deliveries at St. Thomas Power Plant

(Thursday, February 26, 2015)

The Governing Board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority took favorable action Thursday, on items ranging from contract extensions to establishing financial accounts, to satisfy ongoing agreements with power purchase providers.

Meeting on St. Thomas, the Board approved both a contract extension and a price increase towards the completion of a major overhaul of gas turbine Unit 17 making that unit available for propane conversion. In justifying the contract extension and cost increase, WAPA Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. explained that a number of issues were encountered which delayed work. “Everything from problems with seal welds to inclement weather, and special tooling that was required. We also encountered some dirt and particles in the oil. While these factors delayed the overhaul, there were other issues which contributed to the increased cost, including the need to reinsulate the exhaust stack silencer, delays in the shipment of parts, and additional startup costs.”

The Board also approved a contract extension to accommodate continued upgrade work on the protection systems of generating units #16 and #20. Once completed, the units will have the capability to protect against any faults on the system.

Approval was also rendered for the rental of a spud barge to ensure that No. 2 fuel is received at the Harley plant on St. Thomas. The spud barge is needed to facilitate the safe mooring of fuel vessels while deliveries are made. “Some damage we experienced on the fuel dock makes the use of the spud barge necessary. We will make the repairs to the fuel dock but we anticipate doing so once we have the permits necessary to modify the dock to accommodate the LPG fuel deliveries to avoid duplication of work on the dock,” Hodge said.

The Board approved a request to extend a contract at no additional cost for the demolition of the four decommissioned desalination plants. “The units were found to have lead based paint on some of the mechanical components. We had to stop work on some sections of the demolition, prepare specifications, receive quotes and execute both addendums and purchase orders to accomplish what became out of scope work. The original project schedule was thrown out of whack by the lead paint issues,” Hodge said.

In other action, board members voted to ratify requests to:

  • Extend a contract  to ice blast clean components of two heat recovery steam generators;
  • Extend the date on a standby line of credit with Banco Popular through February 2017. The line of credit which has not been drawn on, satisfies terms of an agreement with APR Energy for the lease of a 22 megawatt unit currently in use on St. Thomas;
  • Establish a construction security interest bearing back account for St. Croix Solar in accordance with terms of a purchase power agreement;
  • Increase funding and extend a contract, between WAPA and Control System Technologies, for technical assistance and oversight in both the conversion and startup of the Authority’s gas turbines to burn LPG fuel in the generation of electricity.
  • Renew the lease for a condominium for six months, with an option to renew. The unit facilitates work of the authority’s senior management staff who travel to St. Croix weekly for business purposes. The lease of a condo unit is cost effective compared to nightly hotel rates.

Thursday’s “WAPA Working for You” was an informative segment from the Authority’s St. Croix Plant Superintendent Ira Bowry.  The Authority is a member of the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), and Executive Director Hodge currently serves as the Vice chairman of CARILEC.  As such, several WAPA employees sit on key committees for CARILEC.  Bowry is chairman of the Power Generation Stations Operator Committee, and hosted a meeting on St. Croix earlier this week.  The committee, which is comprised of members from the Bahamas, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica, was formed in January 2014 to oversee the design and development of a power plant operators training program.  According Bowry, CARILEC is seeking to develop a standardized power plant operators training program that takes into account the various types of generation plants technologies that exist among its Caribbean utility members. Bowry’s report displayed one of the many ways WAPA continues to play an integral part of power generation advancement throughout the region.

In his Executive Director’s Report, Hodge gave an update on the recent milestones of the Authority, to include the dedication of the Donoe Solar Facility on Wednesday and the movement of the LPG storage tanks into the facility on Grambakola Hill at the Randolph Harley Plant. He noted that by weeks end, all 10 storage tanks will be moved into place at the St. Thomas facility. As always, he applauded the efforts of the dedicated men and women of the Authority who continue to demonstrate their commitment to carrying out the Authority’s goals.

Board members in attendance at Thursday’s meeting were Chairman Atty. Gerald Groner, Vice Chair Juanita R. Young, Secretary Noel Loftus, Donald Francois, Cheryl Boynes Jackson, Elizabeth Armstrong and Commissioner Designee Gustav James.