WAPA cuts $2.2 million from 2013 budget at emergency meeting
Published: September 8, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - The V.I. Water and Power Authority is scaling back its already tight budget.
Unlike the rest of the V.I. government, which operates on a fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, WAPA operates on a fiscal year that begins July 1.
While the board approved WAPA's Fiscal Year 2013 budget in June, on Wednesday the WAPA board called an emergency meeting to revise the electric system operating budget, cutting it back further.
When it was approved in June, the electrical system budget stood at $344 million in revenue and $335 million in expenses.
"We've gone through the budget and made significant cuts," WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said. "The total dollar amount of all cutbacks is approximately $2.2 million."
WAPA Chief Financial Officer Julio Rhymer said expenses, such as overtime, office materials and supplies, gasoline for the fleet, professional services, and freight costs all were drastically reduced.
Because of the recent revisions, WAPA's FY 2013 budget now has a slight surplus, which Hodge said will be used to help fund underfunded projects in the future.
St. John solar initiative
At Wednesday's board meeting, the board also authorized Hodge to partner with the V.I. Energy Office and the nonprofit organization Clean Coalition to pursue a Solar Distributed Generation and Intelligence Grid project for St. John. The partnership will help WAPA meet its legal mandate to reduce the authority's reliance on fossil fuel.
Hodge said the partnership will seek funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which will enable the Water and Power Authority to issue a request for proposals for the planning, design and construction of a solar demonstration project on St. John. The proposed project will ensure that at least 25 percent of electric energy delivered by the St. John distribution grid substation is supplied from approximately 11.6 megawatts of local solar energy generation.
WAPA will collect up-front network access fees from solar developers to cover WAPA's share of the energy storage costs, and WAPA will own and maintain equipment to facilitate the project.
The emergency meeting was necessary to allow the partners to meet the grant submittal deadline, which is next week.
"The fact that there is one substation and about 8 to 9 megawatts of load, makes St. John the ideal location for this type of demonstration project," Hodge said.
St. John is among the four to six communities nationwide where Clean Coalition is organizing such projects, he said.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.