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WAPA Board Reviews Bids Out of the Public Eye

Jan. 19, 2006 — Alberto Bruno-Vega, executive director of the V.I. Water and Power Authority, has argued that soliciting bids was the most transparent way to find an alternative energy supplier. He has also said many times that it is the method least prone to corruption.
However, his pro-transparency stance seemingly took a 180-degree turn as he had reporters kicked out of a WAPA board meeting at Sunny Isles Thursday.
The stated purpose of the meeting was to review bid proposals from three different companies vying to supply WAPA power — Energy International, Innoventor Technology, and St. Croix Renaissance. Energy International would utilize a diesel engine or combustion turbine; Innoventor Technology has a wind power proposal, and St. Croix Renaissance would burn coal.
The process of getting a company to supply power to WAPA and using an alternative energy source was stalled for over a year as the price of WAPA's energy source – oil – kept rising.
The delay was caused by fighting between WAPA, wanting to go out for bids, and the Public Services Commission, demanding that WAPA simply negotiate with companies the PSC certified as viable energy suppliers.
The V.I. Senate stepped in and passed the Rate Reduction, Job Creation and Economic Stimulus Act of 2005, a compromise that allowed WAPA to go out for bids, provided the companies had been certified by the PSC.
The bids were opened Nov. 30.
WAPA spokesperson Cassandra Dunn called members of the media Thursday morning and said that the board would be getting a progress report on the analysis of the bids at a public meeting that afternoon.
The meeting started almost an hour late because board chair Daryl Lynch and member Ray Anduze were late.
When the meeting started, Bruno-Vega said that because of confidential items in the negotiations the meeting should be convened into an executive session.
The board then voted to go into an executive session. Reporters from the Source and the V.I. Daily News left, but none of the half-dozen non-board members in the room were seen to leave.
Dunn said afterward that it had been her understanding the meeting would be open, but at the last minute someone changed their mind.
WAPA is to provide a recommendation to the PSC by Feb. 16.
The board will meet again Jan. 26.
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