The Virgin Islands Public Services Commission voted Friday to authorize WAPA’s request for a rate increase, the authority announced late Friday. The rate increase is approximately four cents per kilowatt hour, and takes effect on July 1, 2018.
According to WAPA, the change represents an increase of approximately $16 for a residential customer utilizing 400-kilowatt hours per month.
The commission, which sets the rates WAPA charges its customers for electrical and potable water service, noted the increase was justifiable as the authority continues to contend with lower electricity sales and higher fuel costs, according to the release. The rate approved Friday will remain in place through the end of December, WAPA said. The authority rates are set by the commission two times per year, in January and July.
The approved increase will grant WAPA approximately $1.5 million of additional revenue per month, according to the release. This additional revenue is needed to allow the WAPA to continue meeting its fuel obligations, particularly as the territory is now into hurricane season.
WAPA had long promised residents of the territory lower utility rates with its over $200 million propane conversion project. However, in May of 2017, unable to pay its propane supplier a debt of $20 million, WAPA reverted back to oil. Jean Greaux, WAPA’s communications director, told The Consortium on Friday that St. Croix has been using 100 percent propane for several months. As for St. Thomas, Mr. Greaux said the island is still utilizing oil, but a summer reversion back to propane is projected.