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Press Release Details

WAPA Executive Director Debunks Misleading Media Reports About The Shipment Of Restoration Materials To The BVI In The Aftermath Of Hurricanes Irma And Maria

Mar 11, 2020

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The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority
Corporate Communications
NEWS RELEASE
Contact: Jean P. Greaux, Jr., Director of Corporate Communications
340-774-3552 extension 2147 or 340-244-7330
communications@viwapa.vi / www.viwapa.vi

 

March 11, 2020

WAPA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DEBUNKS MISLEADING MEDIA REPORTS ABOUT THE SHIPMENT OF RESTORATION MATERIALS TO THE BVI IN THE AFTERMATH OF HURRICANES IRMA AND MARIA

 

       Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Lawrence J. Kupfer Wednesday responded to what he characterized as erroneous media accounts which recently suggested WAPA shipped FEMA-funded materials intended for electrical service restoration in the U.S. Virgin Islands to the British Virgin Islands.

       Kupfer said an emergency request was made by the BVI to WAPA for poles, pole hardware, and wire for their distribution system which had been impacted by Category V Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Based on all information that has been gathered, the materials shipped to the BVI was owned by WAPA.  “This was a case where a sister utility reached out for assistance in the worst of times. The leadership of WAPA at the time thought it prudent to assist citizens in the BVI in their greatest time of need.” Kupfer pointed out that the FEMA reimbursement process requires that materials and services be purchased upfront by WAPA and reimbursement sought thereafter. The materials, notwithstanding that they are eligible to be reimbursed by FEMA, remain the property of WAPA.

     The exchange or purchase of materials is not an unusual practice in the utility industry. “This is not the first time that WAPA has assisted a fellow utility or received assistance during its recovery. Power companies not only exchange materials, manpower is also frequently provided to assist restoration efforts. Just recently, WAPA provided excess electrical equipment to Saipan in the aftermath of a major typhoon, and in past years, WAPA personnel have gone as far as Guam to provide restoration and recovery assistance,” Kupfer said. 

      It is truly unfortunate, he added, that the media organization didn’t fact check before publishing an error-filled report complete with salacious headlines based on allegations contained in a lawsuit. Although WAPA’s practice is to address such allegations in the proper forum, it was determined in this instance that a limited response to these particularly misleading characterizations of events was warranted. 

 

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The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority is an autonomous agency of the Virgin Islands Government which produces and distributes electricity and drinking water to residential and commercial customers in the territory. WAPA was created by the Fifth Legislature of the Virgin Islands in 1964 through Act No. 1248. Today, WAPA generates electrical power at production plants on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and distributes electrical service through smart grids to customers on St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. John, Hassel Island, and Water Island. Potable water is distributed to almost 13,000 customers through water lines and standpipes. WAPA also has the responsibility of installing and maintaining street lights.