Aug. 25, 2004 – The Public Services Commission was told on Wednesday that a "condition assessment study" of the Water and Power Authority's plants is nearing completion.
"We're about a month away from getting the first draft of the final report," Jamshed Madan of Georgetown Consultants, which is conducting the study, said.
Madan told the commission that WAPA is looking at ways to make its plants more energy efficient, including using smaller gas turbines in block and using renewable sources of energy such as wind. The authority also is considering burning diesel fuel but is concerned about its impact on the environment, he said.
Madan cautioned that with its current plants WAPA will not be able to convert to an alternative fuel source right away.
Valencio Jackson, PSC chair, asked WAPA officials for an update on their efforts to reduce line losses.
"We're making some immediate steps on that right now," Glenn Rothgeb, WAPA chief operating officer, said. He said the authority will provide the PSC its plan for attacking the line loss by the end of the month as the commission had requested.
Sen. Luther Renee, one of two non-voting Senate representatives who sit on the commission, told Rothgeb he is "very concerned" about WAPA having been given the authority to adjust the monthly fuel surcharge on customers' electric bills automatically. Earlier this month PSC granted the utility permission to adjust the levelized energy adjustment surcharge on its own when the price of crude oil rises or falls by $1.75 from the $36.71 per barrel level that the PSC used to set the current surcharge in May. (See "WAPA Gets OK to Adjust Fuel Surcharge at Any Time".)
"Consumers are hurting very badly — especially the people on St. Croix, where the economy is bad," Renee said.
Madan said in about eight weeks the territory should see the benefits of WAPA's optimization of its system.
"The big savings is going to come from the waste heat boiler," Rothgeb said, adding that those savings will be realized in the next two years.
At the meeting, the PSC also assessed the authority $147,000 in docket specific costs.
Waste Management Authority
Appearing before the commission for the first time Wednesday were officials of the recently created Waste Management Authority. The PSC is charged with regulating the WMA. The WMA board chair, Winston Adams, and its interim executive director, Sonya Nelthropp, gave the commission a brief overview of the authority and its responsibilities.
"We view this as a hand-in-hand relationship," Adams said of the PSC and the WMA. He said the board has hired consultants to help in the organization of the authority and hopes to have everything in place to begin operations in six months.
Under the direction of the PSC, the WMA plans to implement an environmental user fee to be imposed on imported goods entering the territory, as well as a sewer system fee. These two fees, along with federal funding, will provide the bulk of the authority's revenues, Adams said.
"This is a completely new thing for the residents of the Virgin Islands," Renee said of the coming fees. "We need to make sure that we go through a massive campaign to educate the public."
Commission members attending the hearing were Jerris Browne, Yvette Canegata-Jones, Jackson, Desmond Maynard, Renee and Alric Simmonds. Members Verne David, Alecia Wells and the other non-voting member, Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, were not present.
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