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Thursday, July 25, 2024


While Southern Energy Inc.’s two-month examination of the V.I. Water and Power Authority ends Monday, the company isn’t saying what — if any — purchase offer it will make.
Chuck Griffin, a Southern Energy spokesman, said the company is continuing the two-month due diligence period to study WAPA’s physical and financial assets. The due diligence began July 20 after it was approved by the WAPA board of directors.
"We don’t really have anything concrete right now," Griffin said.
During his tenure, former Gov. Roy Schneider tried to sell a portion of WAPA for approximately $40 million. Schneider’s effort to sell the electrical generating aspect of the utility was aimed at increasing revenue to balance the V.I. government’s budget.
One of the criticisms of how Gov. Charles Turnbull and the WAPA board are going about the current proposal with Southern Energy is that the water-producing aspect of the utility is being ignored. The concern is that the production of water and electricity are intertwined, making it difficult to buy one system without the other.
Griffin agreed, but was vague about whether Southern Energy would make an offer to purchase the entire WAPA operation.
"There is a wide range of possibilities concerning how we might partner with the V.I. government," Griffin said.
Another issue is the more than $34 million in water and electric bills owed to WAPA by the V.I. government. Again, Griffin didn’t elaborate on how Southern Energy would deal with the debt if the company gained ownership.
"How (the debt) might be impacted would go toward the kind of arrangement that is proposed," he said.
In order to sell WAPA, approvals must come from the utility’s board, the governor and ultimately the Legislature.
Meanwhile, reports are circulating that a contingent of V.I. public servants, including high-ranking administration officials, Turnbull Cabinet members who sit on the WAPA board and the Senate president, traveled to Southern Energy’s headquarters in Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend.
Neither Senate President Vargrave Richards; WAPA board member and Commissioner of Licensing and Consumer Affairs Andrew Rutnik; WAPA chairman Arthur Downing; or Raymond George, WAPA’s executive director, could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Southern Energy’s parent company, Southern Co., is an international firm with $36 billion in assets through regional utilities and operations worldwide. The company owns Alabama Power; Georgia Power; Gulf Power; Mississippi Power and Savannah Electric. Other subsidiaries include Southern Energy; Southern Nuclear; Southern LINC; Southern Company Energy Solutions and Southern Company Services.
Through its international subsidiaries, the company sells electricity in the Bahamas; Argentina; Brazil; Chile; China; England; Germany; the Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

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