81.9 F
Cruz Bay
Sunday, June 4, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesWAPA Board Puts Rate Increase Proposal on Hold

WAPA Board Puts Rate Increase Proposal on Hold

April 3, 2008 — The V.I. Water and Power Authority (WAPA) Governing Board has put on hold a proposal for another rate hike.
"My feeling is if the public hears of another increase it may cause a revolt," said Alphonso Franklin, board chairman.
Nellon Bowry, WAPA's chief financial officer, presented the case to the board for a base rate increase from the Public Services Commission.
The videoconference presentation Wednesday called for a 6.13 percent increase for residential customers and 5.68 percent for commercial customers including the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC).
Franklin was not the only board member unhappy with the proposal.
"This isn't something to drop on the public, with no explanation why we are doing this," board member Noel Loftus said. "I'm uncomfortable authorizing the petition at an emergency meeting. None of this is good. There is the timing and lack of information to the public."
The emergency meeting was called because the Public Services Commission is meeting Thursday.
"PSC meets tomorrow — the emergency is the disclosure of information tomorrow," said Hugo V. Hodge, Jr., executive director. Hodge said the time frame is an issue. The PSC will act within 30 days of filing, then set a hearing schedule to include public and technical hearings.
Hodge also said the V.I. Code mandates five year reviews of utility rates and the last electric rate system review was in 2003.
Most recent increases have been the result of increased fuel costs and show up in the LEAC part of the bill. The base rate is now, as a consequence, only a small percentage of an average customer’s bill.
Bowry said the rate increase was necessary to maintain the fiscal viability of WAPA. He explained non-fuel obligations have increased in areas such as salaries, health insurance and industrial supplies.
However, the board refused to move the petition forward to the PSC. The three members on St. Croix, Loftus, Franklin and Brenda Benjamin, voted against and two on St. Thomas, Donald Francois and Juanita Young, voted for the petition.
The board did approve an authorization to ask the PSC to approve funding of $672,000 to Nation Electric Coil for work on the Unit 13 generator rotor at Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas. According to Hodge, the repair of the generator rotor will improve the generator reliability and efficiency.
"This is an emergency," said Hodge. "We have to expedite the repair, there are no units available. If one goes out, we could have a rolling blackout."
The board also approved asking the PSC to increase funding by $2.4 million for Deltak LLC to flame spray, ship and install economizer panels for Unit 21 at Randolph Harley Power Plant. The reason for this request, according to Hodge, is to improve plant efficiency and reliability in an expedited manner and to improve the project schedule by approximately four months.
Loftus left the meeting before it was adjourned. Board members discussed the possibility of reconvening Thursday morning.
Cheryl Jackson participated via phone from St. John in the conference, but cast no votes.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.