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Cruz Bay
Tuesday, February 7, 2023


Oct. 24, 2001 — At the behest of Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, the Water and Power Authority has postponed a special meeting set for Wednesday to decide if the utility will agree to purchase water and power for the next 30 years from the administration’s proposed waste-to-energy gasification plant.
WAPA and Caribe Waste Technologies, the company that would construct the $180 million facility for the government, returned to the negotiation table last week to rework a contract for the utility to purchase water and power from the proposed plant. A contract approved by the WAPA board, which was somewhat leery of the proposal last week, is crucial if the project is to go forward.
Carol Burke, board chair, said the board agreed to Turnbull’s request Tuesday to delay a vote until next month.
"The governor requested we don’t vote on this matter and we acquiesced," she said, adding that she had promised to make a courtesy call to Turnbull before Wednesday’s scheduled meeting. "The outstanding issues remain outstanding," she added.
The project, Burke said, is "important to him and his administration and the territory."
WAPA and CWT, the company leading a group of firms proposing to finance, build, own and operate the waste-to-energy gasification plant, have been in negotiations since June trying to work out a contract for WAPA to purchase power and water that will be produced by the gasification plant. The plant is being billed by the administration and CWT as the solution to the territory’s long-standing solid-waste problems.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the local government to bring the dumps on St. Thomas and St. Croix into federal compliance, and the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the territory to close the St. Croix dump by the end of 2002 because birds that feed off of it and smoke from frequent garbage fires pose danger to aircraft at the nearby Henry E. Rohlsen Airport.
The Turnbull administration selected CWT earlier this year to construct and oversee the operation of the gasification plant, but the agreement is contingent on WAPA agreeing to buy electricity and water — something the utility's management has said it doesn't need. WAPA consultants have meanwhile questioned the commercial reliability of CWT’s technology.
WAPA is a major part of the picture because its purchase of the water and power could reduce the government’s costs by about $11 million to $12 million a year over the 30-year contract, according to CWT's president, Mark Augenblick. That would leave the government with payments of about $25 million a year, which Augenblick has said could likely be funded by federal grants and a solid waste disposal user fee.
The proposed $180 million price tag for the gasification plant would make it the V.I. government’s single most expensive project ever undertaken.
Under CWT’s proposal, garbage from St. John and St. Thomas would be barged to a single waste-to-energy plant on St. Croix, which could be built adjacent to the Gordon Finch Molasses Pier or on the St. Croix Alumina property. The plant would allow the government to close the Bovoni and Anguilla landfills on St. Thomas and St. Croix, respectively.

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