WAPA receives 18 new storage tanks for liquid propane


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ST. CROIX - More than a dozen board members and officials of the V.I. Water and Power Authority were on hand Wednesday morning for the arrival of the first eight of 18 liquid propane gas storage tanks being delivered to the territory.

The delivery of the oversized red tanks, which measure more than 140 feet long and towered more than 30 feet over the vehicles and people at the unloading, marks a milestone for the project being led by VITOL Virgin Islands Corporation.

The tanks were slowly removed from the crane vessel "Big Lift" under the watchful eye of about a half dozen crew members, who steadied the movement of the tanks with the aid of heavy tow lines.

The tanks now will be temporarily stored at the V.I. Port Authority's container port on St. Croix's southshore until they are barged to their final locations at the project sites at the Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix and the Harley Plant in Sub Base on St. Thomas.

The tanks were manufactured in Belgium and shipped to Holland before being brought to the territory.

The 10 tanks that will be placed on St. Thomas will soon also make a 15-day trek from Holland to St. Croix and also will be stored at the container port until they are moved once civil engineering and construction is complete.

Gov. John deJongh Jr., said he was pleased to see the progress WAPA is making, saying that it far surpasses anything that was thought of when he was chairman of the governing board of the utility 20 years ago.

He said WAPA continues to invest in its local staff and is forging forward with the support of local and federal agencies.

"We are making all of these strides with local skills and local talents," he said. "All of these projects show that WAPA understands that saving power equates to salary increases for everyone."

WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr., said residents now will be able to see that the propane project is moving forward.

"Everyone will soon see that the fuel switch is real, and we are steadfast in our mission of lowering electricity rates for the people of the Virgin Islands," he said. "I personally visited the tanks while they were in the fabrication yard to ensure that the contractor was adhering to the highest technical standards, and I can say without a doubt that these LPG storage tanks are the product of world class fabrication technology."

Hodge said all of the tanks will be installed with 100 percent redundant safety mechanisms and will be encased in earthen and concrete mounts, storing propane on-site at the power plants in each district.

He said the largest tank weighs 315 tons, with a length of 165 feet, a diameter of 18 feet and a height of 30 feet.

WAPA Board Chairman Gerald Groner said the propane project, which entails building the infrastructure, converting seven of WAPA's GE turbines and supplying propane, is expected to reduce WAPA's fuel cost by approximately $90 million annually.

Groner said the savings to WAPA's customers is expected to stimulate the territory's economy by giving consumers more money in their pockets.

"The 90 million dollars we would have been sending to a fuel company will remain here and circulate around our territory," he said.

Hodge said more information about the fuel-switching project can be found at www.poweringvi.vi

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email fstokes@dailynews.vi.

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