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Water and Power Authority

Letter to Senator Malone – WAPA

August 25, 2010

Senator Shawn-Michael Malone

Chairman, Environmental Committee

28th Legislature of the Virgin Islands

P.O. Box 1690
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands 00804

Dear Senator Malone:

Thank you for showing us such cordiality and respect when we testified before your Environmental Committee on August 10th. Given the facts elicited from the recent audit by the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior and the information presented at the senate hearings, WAPA is currently polluting our environment, DPNR and the EPA are preparing a Notice of Violation, and WAPA does not have immediate plans to purchase the equipment and materials necessary to stop this pollution.

Some of the generators are 40 years old, operating at as low as 13% efficiency, which thus wastes an incredible amount of oil. A net increase of just 10% power production efficiency would save us 18 million dollars per year. Nevertheless, WAPA is not choosing to spend its money on repairs and upgrades. For example, WAPA budgeted only 3.9 million for repairs for all of St. Thomas / St. John last year, yet the parts needed to repair just one generator cost over 4 million. Many Virgin Islanders cannot afford now to have electricity in their homes and businesses have had to close. Despite this audit showing Virgin Islanders are paying 350+ percent above the national average for our cost of electricity, WAPA is giving Hodge a 40% raise in pay, and planning a 15.95 million dollar home office in St. Thomas.

Clearly, in order to stop polluting and dramatically reduce our Territory’s cost of electricity to be in line with the national average, we need new energy efficient equipment and a sound financial plan. By partnering now with citizens and federal agencies, we can achieve these short term goals quickly, then focus together on the long term goals of reducing our consumption of fossil fuels by 60% in the next 15 years.

Through the Energy Development of Island Nations tri-nation agreement, the Secretary of the Interior, the Department of Energy, NREL and our U.S. President have signed on to the commitment and success of the VI Renewable Energy Pilot Project. In addition, the EPA and NOAA are concerned and involved in our Territory’s pollution problems with WAPA, as well as those of VIWMA.  The federal agencies involved have varieties of substantial funding available to them, as long as there is overwhelming transparency, strict accountability and a sound financial plan in place to utilize these funds. The most reasonable, efficient way to procure these funds for our Territory quickly, is for the federal agencies to be responsible for running the financial end of the Partnership, which necessarily includes the finances of our utilities.

With everyone involved aware that the federal agencies are responsible for the financing, schedule of payments, financial accountability and transparency, contractors, suppliers and others external to the Partnership will be that much more willing to work with us to achieve our goals.

The EPA and NOAA would weigh in with their environmental concerns, and funding, in regard to our utilities, so that the Partnership will purchase the most practical, environmental, energy efficient, equipment and services to address our Territory’s immediate and short term needs.

NREL, which has the best scientific knowledge of renewable energy in the United States, would be responsible for formulating the long-term plan of our renewable energy system, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy and the VI Department of Energy. This plan would then be  reviewed by the Partnership, and implemented after any changes or adjustments are made.

In this Partnership, our local government will be tasked to create a schedule of paying outstanding WAPA debt, current and future WAPA bills, and enforcing that all local agencies and boards adhere to this plan.

The VI Citizen’s Liason would be responsible for communicating with Virgin Islanders, creating and maintaining an interactive website which presents all data of the Project, with a blog to allow Virgin Islanders to communicate with the Partnership. We have many Virgin Islanders who want to help to address our environmental, waste and energy concerns.  With this format of organization, the People will be able to contribute their knowledge, time, expertise, land, and/or funding to particular aspects of the Partnership Project of their choosing.

By working together, this Partnership Project will streamline the entire process, because there will not be unilateral decisions made, then stiff opposition by citizens, federal agencies, hearings and lawsuits. Instead, with federal agencies integral to the process, funding, licensing, contracts and approvals will be simplified and expedited.

Sincerely yours,

Susan K. Wolterbeek

Coalition to Save Lindbergh Bay

cc:  Barack Obama, President of the United States

Anthony Babauta, Assistant Secretary of the Interior

Nikolao Pula, Assistant Secretary of the Interior

David Hayes Deputy Secretary, Office of the Secretary

Steven Chu, Secretary, US Dept. of Energy

Adam Warren, Director, VI Pilot Project, NREL

Judith Enck, EPA Administrator, Region II

Steve Meyers, Interagency Coordinator, NOAA

Governor John P. deJongh, Jr.

Bevan R. Smith, Jr. Director, VI Energy Office

J. Lowe Davis, Editor in Chief, VI Daily News

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