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PSC Tables WAPA Decisions for a Month

After more than two hours of discussion, a back and forth between the Public Services Commission and V.I. Water and Power Authority officials, PSC tabled the discussion until it’s next monthly meeting without taking further action.
VITOL propane shipment arrives on St. Croix in 2015, from V.I. Source archives

WAPA Default Cuts Off Propane: Electricity Crisis Prompts Emergency Meetings

Vitol, the V.I. Water and Power Authority's propane supplier and creditor for WAPA's conversion from oil to propane electricity generation, cut off the propane it supplies the utility at noon Saturday. This means WAPA must use more expensive fuel oil instead and cannot use its newest, most efficient generators.

Bryan Calls Emergency Legislative Meeting Over WAPA

With less than 24 hours notice, Friday afternoon Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. called the Legislature into an emergency meeting Saturday, Dec. 21, to discuss "matters related to the V.I. Water and Power Authority."

PSC: No Action on WAPA Base Rate Increase For Now

Residents who gathered for a hearing of the Public Services Commission Thursday hoping to hear news about the proposed WAPA rate increase got a double whammy: Not only did the PSC decide not to act on the utility’s request for a base rate increase after hours of testimony, but it also approved a decrease in both water and electric Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC) rates.
Surrounded by his team, Gov. Albert Bryan, Jr. addresses frustrations about an upcoming WAPA base rate increase, which he said will actually not affect customers’ bills. (Source photo by James Gardner)

Bryan Says Rate Increase Would Not Raise WAPA Bills

Addressing a recent flurry of online petitions from residents asking the Public Services Commission to vote against a proposed V.I. Water and Power Authority base rate increase, Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. clarified Monday that if approved, the hike would not impact ratepayers’ bills.

PSC Leaves Fuel Surcharge Unchanged Pending More Information

The Public Services Commission voted Wednesday to keep the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause unchanged for now. The LEAC is a fuel surcharge on Water and Power Authority bills which recoups the cost to purchase fuel to run the utility's generators. It was created to allow WAPA to pay for fuel when there are abrupt changes in price. The fuel surcharge became extremely unpopular in the U.S. Virgin Islands after oil prices increased dramatically after the cost of fuel oil shot up in the early years of the new millennium. (Image courtesy of the St. Louis Federal Reserve) The PSC is considering a request to increase the LEAC in response to changes in fuel prices. WAPA has largely switched over to using natural gas to fire its generators. While less expensive than fuel oil, it is also subject to market fluctuations. And WAPA is struggling to pay for the work to convert to using natural gas. With electricity costing a lot in the territory, the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce and others have come out against increasing the unpopular fuel bill. They point to perceived poor management at WAPA as justification for not allowing the publicly-owned utility to charge customers what it pays for fuel. If WAPA does not pay for fuel, it will not receive fuel to run its generators. A new hearing is set for July 31. WAPA petitioned the Commission to change the current LEAC Rate of 19.26 cents per kilowatt hour to 23.5 cents per kilowatt hour for the proposed period. That would be a 22.1 percent increase in that part of the bill and would mean overall increases of between 9.5 and 10.95 percent, according to a statement from the PSC. The PSC passed a motion to require WAPA to do a full financial audit, in support of its pending base rate application, of the VITOL infrastructure and operation and management contracts, along with full disclosure of ownership of any and all affiliate companies to which work and services were subcontracted or to whom business was otherwise directed. The financial information must be received before the Base Rate application comes before the Commission. Waste Management Authority WMA Chief Executive Officer Adrian Wade Taylor said WMA is doing fine and will not be placed in receivership. WMA has acquired 113 acres in the Anguilla Landfill area outside of Federal Aviation Administration limits and also 13 acres in Bovoni, which will help it address orders to close both landfills. WMA also has nine new bin sights on St Thomas, two new sites on St. John and three new sites on St. Croix. As of today, WMA is totally reliant on the VI Government for its funding until they start to collect fees. Telecommunication Viya was granted their request for an extension to June 30, 2019, to file required documents under Docket 653 for the Transfer of Control. Also, the status update on Universal Service Funding for USVI connect, Federal Communications Commissions and Lifeline programs, that bring federal funding into the territory for qualifying individuals under the Human Services umbrella, are on target according to Viya CEO Geraldine Pitts and Viya Public Relations, Jennifer Matarangas-King. Wednesday's meeting was held at the PSC Barbell Plaza location while teleconferenced in the St. Croix Education office. Chair Raymond Williams, Vice Chair David Hughes, Commissioners Kent Bernier, Andy Rutnik and Johann Clendenin were present along with Sen. Athneil “Bobby” Thomas, who serves ex officio as a commissioner, as a representative of the Legislature.

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