Press Releases

Default text size Larger text size Even larger text size   print
RSS feed
< Back to Main

WAPA Receives much anticipated Army Corps of Engineers permit for Propane Project on St. Croix

(Monday, May 18, 2015)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s ongoing efforts to convert to the use of liquefied petroleum gas as the primary source of fuel for power generation received a major boost at week’s end when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a long-sought after permit for marine work on St. Croix. The application, filed by WAPA in December 2013, will facilitate required work to ready the Estate Richmond Power Plant to both receive and utilize LPG in the generation of electrical power.

WAPA Executive Director Hugo V. Hodge, Jr. said today with the permit in hand, the Authority can now move to complete all marine work that stands in the way of propane being delivered to the Richmond plant over the next 30-45 days. “All components of the marine work that had been dependent on the permit approval will now move forward. Some of the work to be done includes: an upgrade to the Authority’s firewater protection systems; the placement of a turning dolphin to aid in navigation and maneuverability of the fuel feeder vessels; minor dredging at the fuel dock and the installation of fendering devices along the sea side of the fuel dock.” He said the permit was issued on May 8th and received by the Authority on May 13th. The two dozen or so conditions that the Army Corps placed on the marine work were consistent with what we expected given the scope of work to be done, he said.

Mic Play Audio #1 - Play Audio #2

Rhymer said that over the next two weeks, various vendors will be arriving on island to complete the pre-commissioning of various equipment; the installation of emergency diesel generators and electrical cabinets as well as testing of the marine loading arm that was installed on the Richmond plant fuel dock about five weeks ago.

WAPA Chief Operating Officer and the Authority’s point man on the propane conversion project, Gregory L. Rhymer, said that the contractor, Orion, is in the process of mobilizing and will arrive on St. Croix towards the end of this month. “A nitrogen generator will arrive this week and in June, we will commence hydro testing and nitrogen purging of the various systems; the control room will be energized on June 1st and the automation systems will be loaded and tested in June as well.”

Hodge added that the large gas carrier will be loading LPG in the latter part of June for its journey to the Virgin Islands with the initial shipment of propane. “We anticipate that the large gas carrier will arrive in the first days of July. It must be pointed out that given the fact that gas carrier’s permanent mooring site is tied to pending Army Corps of Engineers permit for St. Thomas, we are pursuing a temporary anchoring site for the vessel. Our success in identifying the anchoring area for the gas carrier will ensure the flow of propane fuel to the Estate Richmond power plant by mid-July as scheduled.” Additionally, he said, one of the two custom-built fuel feeder vessels will also arrive in early July and will be commissioned with providing propane fuel supply to the Estate Richmond Power Plant. Significant familiarity training will also be provided to V.I. Port Authority marine pilots on the operation and handling of the feeder vessel.

Hodge noted that based on the permit issued by the USACE and the schedule of work that exists, he anticipates that propane will be introduced to the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix by mid-July for equipment commissioning purposes and that the lower cost LPG will be used to generate electricity immediately thereafter. The completion of this major conversion to LPG instead of fuel oil in the generation of electricity will represent significant savings for all of WAPA’s customers. A similar permit application for the St. Thomas propane facility remains under review and consideration by the Army Corps. “We trust that all agencies involved in the review process for the St. Thomas Army Corps permit will continue to work diligently to facilitate WAPA’s receiving this permit required for the project to move forward without delay.”

Both Hodge and Rhymer expressed appreciation to the Authority’s governing board for its unwavering support of this major undertaking as well as to Governor Kenneth E. Mapp and V.I. Congressional Delegate Stacey Plaskett for their collective efforts in reaching out to the leadership of the Army Corps to expedite its review of the permit application given the far reaching effect of the LPG conversion project on not only the economy of the Virgin Islands but on every one of WAPA’s customers.