WAPA OKs $19.8M for 2 new generators on St. Thomas

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The V.I. Water and Power Authority board approved the purchase of two power generators for the St. Thomas power plant.

In a board meeting Thursday, members approved a $15.5 million contract for Wood Group Power Solutions to provide a turnkey project to procure and install a new gas turbine at the Harley plant. The new unit will replace Unit 22, which is the only existing generator that cannot be converted from burning oil to burning propane or natural gas.

The new LM2500 gas turbine is a "fully refurbished" unit that will sit on the footprint of Unit 22, using the existing foundation, generator and exhaust stack.

WAPA officials said by replacing Unit 22 with the new gas turbine, the utility will remain in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency and minimize installation costs.

WAPA Chief Operating Officer Gregory Rhymer said the new unit will equal the power generation of the newest unit, Unit 25, and will be able to burn oil and propane.

WAPA spokeswoman Jerain Fleming said the utility will repurpose as many components of the decommissioned Unit 22 as possible, and discard or sell the rest.

The board also approved a $4,315,330 contract to purchase a new surplus Heat Recovery Steam Generator for St. Thomas. The generator will be purchased from Sigma, LLC for $2,990,330, which includes the transportation and storage of the unit. The remaining $1.3 million will go to Hamon Deltak for the design and retrofitting of the boiler.

The new unit works with Unit 11 and Unit 13, converting their waste heat and steam into additional power.

WAPA was able to buy the unit at a surplus price, but the unit has never been used, Rhymer said.

The unit initially was made for a refinery that decided to pursue other business ventures after the generator had already been designed and built, Rhymer said.

He said a similar unit purchased new would cost about $7.1 million.

"The procurement of these units will bring additional relief outside of what we'll see with the propane project," WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said. "Additionally, we will have the flexibility of running our generators in combined cycle, which offers free power-generation and presents additional savings to our ratepayers."

Hodge said the new propane generator replacing Unit 22 will be in operation by the end of this year, and the waste heat boiler will be operational in approximately 16 months.

The utility will be using the Fuel Tax revenue stream to back bonds issued to pay for the two new units.

Hodge said his staff currently is developing and will soon issue a Request for Proposals for an additional 20-megawatt unit for the St. Thomas District and a 10-megawatt unit for St. Croix.

The St. Thomas unit will be used to bring the Harley plant up to full capacity, and the St. Croix unit will be used to balance the load curve on that island in the most efficient manner, Hodge said.

In other business Thursday, the board:

- Approved $319,810 - funded by a Department of Interior grant - for the purchase of distribution automation switches and reclosers from S&C Electric Company. The equipment will correct faults and reroute power around a faulted area to reduce the impact and duration of outages.

- Extended the deadline to do a major overhaul of Unit 16. The work has been completed and the unit is online, but the extension - from January to May - will allow for additional performance testing.

- Approved a $1,372,065 budget for the removal of the old desalinization equipment at the Harley and Richmond power plants. About $1.1 million of the total budget is for RG Engineering to do the liquidation, along with an additional 15 percent contingency for permits and unforeseen circumstances. The units no longer are operational since WAPA switched to reverse osmosis to produce water.

- Approved $457,869 to Sulzer Turbo Services for additional repairs to Unit 18.

- Approved the VIenergize Services business plan to create a business unit within WAPA to work on reducing the territory's dependency on fossil fuels by 60 percent by 2025. The new unit will oversee the net metering program and other green energy programs such as solar, wind and biomass. VIenergize Services is funded by a $600,000 grant from the Department of the Interior.

- Ratified a Memorandum of Agreement between WAPA and the V.I. Next Generation Network - the agency building the government-owned broadband network. The agreement allows the network to use some of the utility's communication facilities and infrastructure. In return, WAPA has the right to use up to eight strands of dark fiber to help implement a smart grid.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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