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WAPA Again Threatens to Cut Power to Luis Hospital

Sept. 6, 2006 – The V.I. Water and Power Authority has threatened to cut electricity to the lone hospital on St. Croix if its multimillion-dollar power bill remains unpaid, officials said Wednesday.
Late Tuesday, WAPA asked Gov. Charles Turnbull to intervene and help settle Juan F. Luis Hospital's more than $5 million electricity debt, said Lorelei Farrington, a utility attorney.
Electrical service could be cut in early October if a payment agreement isn't reached, Farrington said.
It is the second time this year that the utility has threatened to disconnect the hospital, which paid back part of a $4 million debt in March.
"Believe me, it's not going to be an easy decision to make," she said, adding that WAPA "desperately" wants Turnbull's help resolving the debt.
WAPA burns fuel oil to create electricity, and sharp rises in fuel prices have increased the hospital's monthly bills from $150,000 to $200,000, said Anthony Saul, the hospital's chief financial officer.
The increase, coupled with constant difficulty collecting money from patients, broke the hospitals' budget, Saul said.
"It's something we want to get resolved," said Gregory Davila, a hospital spokesman.
If power is cut, the hospital can use its emergency electricity generators designed for use during events like hurricanes, Davila said.
Turnbull officials did not immediately return messages.

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