WAPA Positions New Generating Units in Preparation for Installment at St. Thomas Powerplant. They Won't Be Online Until 2023.

WAPA Published On November 24, 2021 05:05 PM
Staff Consortium | November 24, 2021 05:05:02 PM

Wartsila generator offloaded from transport vessel at Crown Bay homeport dock By THE VIRGIN ISLANDS WATER AND POWER AUTHORITY

The four new generating units that recently arrived in the territory and are not expected to be online before February 2023 are being positioned at the  Randolph Harley Power  Plant on St. Thomas, WAPA has announced. Once installed, these new units will provide more reliable electrical service to the  St. Thomas – St. John district, according to the authority.

The  acquisition of the new 9-megawatt units marks the second round of generators purchased from Finland-based Wartsila and represents the first time since the mid-1990s that new units have been purchased and added to the  power generation fleet  at the Krum Bay plant, WAPA said. The two sets of Wartsila units are owned, operated and maintained by the authority.

“This is indeed a significant milestone for WAPA as the utility moves to smaller, more efficient and reliable generation,” said Noel Hodge, interim executive director/ CEO. There are many positive attributes with this acquisition. Aside from operational efficiencies,  the units  will  allow for  100%  power generation using cleaner burning LPG fuel and the units can burn two fuel types to generate electricity.  These  units,  coupled  with  the  original  three  Wartsila generators and a battery energy  storage system, will provide enough generation  capacity  to meet peak  power demand of our customers.”

Governor Albert Bryan said the installation of the new units is a key component of the territory’s continuing recovery and a foundation of the Bryan-Roach administration’s larger efforts toward energy sustainability and independence.

“The  much-anticipated arrival of these Wartsila units signals a new beginning with the  promise of more  reliability  and  efficient   electric  service in the St.  Thomas-St. John District,” Mr. Bryan said. “But in the  bigger picture and for the future of the territory, it’s a vital step toward our long-range goal of moving WAPA towards distributed energy  from renewable energy sources, while helping all Virgin Islanders achieve energy independence.”

Hodge also explained that smaller units have less impact on customers should a unit trip which is an added benefit for the power plant’s operations, according to the release.

Hodge said the purchase and installation of the  units comes at no cost to WAPA or its ratepayers. “Through the   hard  work of the Office of Disaster Recovery, the Virgin  Islands  Housing  Finance  Authority (VIHFA) and U.S. Housing and Urban Development  (HUD), the  acquisition and installation of the new units is 100% federally funded. Neither WAPA nor its customers will have any burden to bear in our bringing these  modern units into service.”

He  thanked  WAPA’s  partners  on  this  project  but specifically praised  the VIHFA. The  agency not only worked tirelessly to secure the 100% HUD funding for the  new units, but redoubled efforts to allow  WAPA to utilize  HUD grant funding as the local match for many of  the planned mitigation  projects in the territory. Hodge said these are significant outcomes for WAPA and  its customers, WAPA said.

Purchased through the Community Development Block Grant –  Disaster Recovery Program, the Harley Power Plan Project cost a total of $95 million.

“The V.I. Housing Finance Authority is equally proud of this  milestone. What an opportunity for the territory to stabilize and modernize our energy infrastructure,” said VIHFA Executive Director Daryl Griffith. “We  certainly look forward to our continued relationship with WAPA and  other partners as we work collaboratively to bring reliable power to our community.”

The  acquisition  of  the  new  generators  and  the  battery  storage  system  are  one  component  of  a  major transformation plan the  Authority is undergoing that  will  utilize significant federal  funding provided  in  the   aftermath  of  the  2017  hurricanes.  The  plan  calls  for  new  generation,  additional  renewables, installation of composite poles and the undergrounding of electrical service. 

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