Press Release Details

WAPA Board Gets Operational Update On Electric And Water Systems And Approves Contract Extension

Mar 31, 2020


The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority
Corporate Communications
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 31, 2020



      At WAPA’s monthly governing board meeting Thursday, Executive Director Lawrence J. Kupfer provided an overview of electrical and water operations, the increased use of propane as a primary fuel source at both power plants, and steps being taken to protect both employees and customers from COVID-19.

      Kupfer said the Authority continues to follow the guidance of local and federal health authorities regarding Coronavirus as WAPA remains committed to providing uninterrupted electrical and water service. While WAPA will not terminate service due to non-payment during the state of emergency, customers have been informed about the many methods available to make payment on accounts. In a move to protect both the public and our employees from exposure to the Coronavirus, WAPA initially limited the number of customers allowed in customer service lobbies, and later suspended all visits to WAPA public-facing facilities. The utility is pushing most of its customers to online service for regular transactions, and to the telephone, where customer service representatives are available for more detailed transactions such as new service, termination of service and transfer of service.

      “We have instituted measures to maintain and promote a healthy workforce during the pandemic. Telework opportunities are being made available to those employees whose job requirements can be performed and satisfied remotely. This option lessens the number of persons in the workplace while affording our employees the opportunity to self-quarantine. Additionally, out of an abundance of caution, WAPA has canceled all visits by non-staff to all facilities, from the power generating plants to the administrative offices. Employees have been armed with sanitizing supplies for use at the workplace: counter tops, work surfaces, computers, mobile devices, telephones, etc. WAPA has also provided information to employees from local and federal authorities about COVID-19, its effects, and how employees can take measures to protect themselves and their families.

      An incident command system was activated several weeks ago to manage WAPA’S response to the pandemic. The system, in line with federal emergency response guidelines, provides a well-coordinated approach to action items and information flow.        

      On the operational front, Kupfer reported an increase in total system generation of 72.2 megawatts, an increase from January, but still short of pre-storm generation totals. However, analysis continues to show increased generation year on year, post storm. “I am pleased to advise the board that our propane powered generators on both St. Thomas and St. Croix are performing extremely well, and lower cost LPG remains the primary fuel source at both plants. In the month of February, the split between propane and oil was 85%-15%.” On world markets, the cost of propane decreased by 7% and oil prices dropped by 11%. “Overall, propane prices are 39% lower than oil,” Kupfer noted.  As regards the water system, production is at 74% capacity with approximately 150,000 kilogallons of water produced in the month of February. Inventories are generally near target.

      Kupfer also reported that one of three unions representing WAPA employees have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. “The contract ratification with VI Workers Union for supervisors was welcomed, and we continue to work towards a new contract for the professional and technical workers and the rank and file employees.”

      The board approved a time extension and cost increase to an existing contract with Evertec Group, LLC. The extension is through October 26, 2020 at a cost not to exceed $750,000. The company provides printing and mailing services of the Authority’s bills to customers.

      Board members present included Chairman Anthony D. Thomas, Vice Chair Noel Loftus, Secretary Juanita Young, Directors Joel Lee and Kyle Fleming, Hubert Turnbull, Elizabeth Armstrong, Jed JohnHope, and Cheryl Boynes Jackson.

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About WAPA: 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 streetlights.