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Governing Board Approve Component Upgrade for St. Thomas Unit 23

(Thursday, May 26, 2016)

An upgrade to provide greater stability to the operations of WAPA Generating Unit 23, the largest generator in the St. Thomas - St. John district, was approved by WAPA’s governing board members during Thursday’s monthly meeting.

The board approved the procurement, hardware installation and commissioning of a new voltage regulator excitation control and protection panel at a cost of $432,019.19. The new panel is an upgrade of the existing panel on Unit 23 which has been deemed obsolete. “Plant personnel have found it difficult to secure spare parts and technical expertise in troubleshooting problems with the aged control panel of Unit 23. Additionally, key personnel have already undergone training on the upgraded equipment and are familiar with the system platform,” said Julio Rhymer Sr., Interim Chief Executive Officer. The new panel will be installed when Unit 23 undergoes a major overhaul later this year ahead of it being converted to burn three fuel types. 

At the meeting on St. Thomas, the board also approved:

• A change order to an existing contract with IV-AGA Texas, LLC in the amount of $454,299.12 to allow for additional fire protection system upgrades at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas ahead of the plant’s beginning to introduce LPG as the primary fuel source for electricity generation. The addition of a sprinkler system was not part of the original design of the protection system and modification were required to accommodate the sprinkler apparatus and the installation of additional detectors. 

• A modification to the total contract costs for security services at WAPA’s facilities. The contract, approved a month ago, was revised to incorporate the minimum wage increase in the territory. 

• An extension to the vehicle purchase contract with Caribbean Auto Mart for a one year period through January 24, 2017. The extension provides WAPA additional time to standardize and upgrade its fleet of vehicles. 

• Revisions to existing policies regarding business-related travel and credit card accounts.

Thursday’s “WAPA…Working for You!” segment was a look into the Authority’s VIenergize (pronounced “Vy – energize”) Services business unit (VIES). The VIES unit was established to offer additional support to the clean energy strategy goal of meeting 60% of the territory’s energy needs through clean energy by 2025. 

In their presentation, WAPA Financial Analysts Valerie Bryan and Joe’lle Webster explained the operations of the unit, namely conducting energy assessments to assist customers with energy conservation, and administering the net metering program. Mrs. Bryan explained that comprehensive assessments are conducted to offer the customer a complete energy picture, to include whether their current energy usage is efficient or not sufficient to meet their energy needs. To determine this, the size of the family, the dwelling and the normal usage are all taken into consideration. Ms. Webster enlightened the board members on the net metering process, once a customer gets their permit from DPNR and it is submitted to WAPA. She also made mention of the current state of the net metering program, to include the number of applications pending and the number of customers to date. 

In his Executive Director’s Report, Rhymer spoke about the recent round of stakeholder and public meetings held to discuss the Authority’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). A series of meetings were held on each island to afford individuals the opportunity to get an update on the pending IRP, and to offer the consultant from Black and Veatch any additional comments or suggestions for the IRP. Rhymer noted that while the meetings were sparsely attended, those individuals who came offered good suggestions and gained great insight about the plan. These recent meetings were the second round in the IRP process, and within a month the consultants should have a preliminary final product, at which time a final round of public meetings will be held.

Board members in attendance at Thursday’s meeting included Chairman Gerald Groner, Esq., Vice Chairman Juanita Young, Secretary Noel Loftus, Commissioners Devin Carrington and Gustav James, Director Marvin Pickering and Elizabeth Armstrong. Member Cheryl Boynes-Jackson was excused.

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