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WAPA to Comply with Small Power Order

July 14, 2005 – The Water and Power Authority might not like it, but executive director Alberto Bruno-Vega said WAPA will comply with a bill passed by the Senate on Tuesday mandating it to enter into a purchase agreement with a small power producer on St. Croix.
When the bill first surfaced last October, Bruno-Vega was vehemently against it, saying it was like holding a gun to the executive director's head.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull vetoed it after it passed the Senate. Turnbull said it infringed on the authority of WAPA and negatively impacted WAPA's ability to select a power provider.
The 26th Legislature overrode that veto Tuesday.
Bruno-Vega said Thursday that, effective Friday, WAPA would be soliciting qualified contractors to supply information to WAPA by Aug. 31.
In the end, he is still hoping for what WAPA has been advocating since July of last year – competitive bidders.
When the bill was first introduced, Bruno-Vega argued that it was written for one provider – Caribbean Energy Resources Corp.
The bill stipulates that the power supplier be certified by the Public Services Commission. Three companies –– St. Croix Renaissance Group, Caribbean Energy Resources Corporation and Caribe Waste Technologies –– have all been certified by the PSC to operate as small power producers in the territory.
Also stipulated is that the company invest $150 million on St. Croix within a four-year period and employ 400 workers.
Bruno-Vega said a bond will be required by WAPA to ensure that the company lives up to the stipulations of the bill. He said this bond would be above the normal bonds required by WAPA. He said WAPA does not want to be stuck with a contractor that does not live up to its promises, as WAPA previously has been stuck.
In his earlier criticisms of the bill – The Emergency Job Creation and Economic Stimulus Act of 2005 — Bruno-Vega argued that there was nothing guaranteeing that the jobs would be created or the investments made.
He said Thursday that he is still worried that this bill is "shutting the door on renewable energy resources." One certified provider relies on coke petroleum, a derivative of oil; another relies on coal; and the third relies on burning garbage.
However, he said WAPA would continue to investigate the possibility of federal funds for a provider using a renewable resource. He said Delegate Donna Christensen has provided WAPA information concerning that possibility.
The bill was introduced by Sen. Norman Jn Baptiste.

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