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WAPA Board Seeks to Spend Hazard Mitigation Money

April 28, 2005 – The V.I. Water and Power Authority Governing Board authorized its executive director to seek the Public Service Commission's permission to use $4 million of the utility's Electric Self-Insurance and Hazard Mitigation Fund.
At a meeting Wednesday, the board voted to ask for $2 million for each district to cover the costs of burying cables in the towns of Charlotte Amalie and Christiansted.
In the St. Thomas-St. John District, WAPA plans to use the money to bury cables and transformers on Main Street and the surrounding waterfront perimeter from the Emancipation Garden Post Office Station to Wet Willy's.
In the St. Croix District, the money will be used for an express underground feeder from the Richmond power plant to the center of Christiansted. Cables will also be buried from the town's waterfront to Government House and the Lieutenant Governor's offices.
"As future money is made available, the expansion of the Christiansted town will continue," Alberto Bruno-Vega, WAPA's executive director, said.
Bruno-Vega said WAPA has to seek permission from the PSC to tap into the Electric Self-Insurance Fund although it is collected and managed by the authority. This is because the money in the fund is collected from a portion of the ratepayers' bills each month, Bruno-Vega said, and the PSC regulates WAPA's rates.
"These are funds used for restoration work following a hurricane," Bruno-Vega said, explaining that money is added to the fund each month.
The Self-Insurance Fund was implemented shortly after Hurricane Hugo damaged the territory's electrical infrastructure in 1989. The Federal Emergency Management Agency told WAPA at the time they would need to gain self-insurance to hasten the restoration process after storms. The surcharge initially was $0.001 per kilowatt-hour.
After Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, WAPA doubled the disaster recovery surcharge to $0.002 per kilowatt-hour with the PSC's approval. Since then, the Self-Insurance Fund has grown to $6 million.
In other matters Wednesday, the WAPA board approved a Business Conduct and Ethics Policy to help ensure its employees do not have conflict of interests or any part-time employment outside of the authority. The board also approved the Electronic Mail and Internet Use policy to curb improper use of the authority's technology.
The board has also decided to hire Inspector General Steven van Beverhoudt to conduct a line-loss study in the St. Thomas-St. John District, similar to the one recently conducted on St. Croix.
Funding was also approved for a number of projects, including:
– $110,000 for additional costs related to the Melvin Evans Lighting Project on St. Croix,
– $335,370 for the rehabilitation of the St. Croix fuel tanks,
– $19,700 for Bill & Peak to assess and re-engineer WAPA's revenue cycle process and procedures,
– $249,367 for legal services to assist the utility with interconnection petitions filed with the PSC by Caribbean Energy Resources Corp. and the St. Croix Renaissance Group,
– and $176,907.73 to the PSC for docket-specific assessments.

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