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WAPA Defends Rate Hike Ahead of Planned Protest Set for July 31st on St. Thomas

St. Thomas 𑁋 The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) issued a statement to customers detailing “reasons and rationale for its requested base rate increase” that was recently filed with the Public Service (PSC). The statement to customers came just hours before a district-wide service interruption began affecting customers on St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island.

For several weeks, residents have been circulating a petition calling for the PSC to deny the rate hike WAPA requested earlier this year. The letter from WAPA can be read in its entirety below:

Source: WAPA Communications

WAPA’s facility in St. Thomas lost generating power around 1:20 a.m. on Saturday. The utility company attempted to restore power to affected customers on St. Thomas, St. John and Water Island but initial attempts failed, which caused the outage to last into the daylight hours as personnel continued efforts to bring generators back online to supply electricity to customers. 

Residents took to social media to scold the authority for the outage that altered Saturday plans for a number of residents in the St. Thomas – St. John district. 

In the letter, WAPA states that “in 2020, our customers will see real progress on projects utilizing federal funds. The WAPA of tomorrow is a utility that will fully utilize smaller, efficient, propane burning generation with significantly increased renewables such as solar and wind to generate less expensive electricity for our customers.”

Just this morning (Monday, July 29th, 2019) the authority issued a brief statement alerting the public that approximately 9,600 customers on St. Thomas were experiencing an electrical service interruption.

The public protest, scheduled for July 31st near the PSC office on St. Thomas happens just one day before the Virgin Islands enters the two hottest months of the year; August and September. Both months are also recognized by meteorologists as the most volatile months of hurricane season in the Caribbean and Atlantic basin. 

With the authority still recovering from two category five hurricanes in 2017, WAPA is looking to stabilize its finances to recover losses while providing adequate electrical service to customers throughout the remainder of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

At the time of this article, customers in the St. Thomas district were still experiencing an electrical service interruption, which began around 4:50 a.m. according to updates from WAPA.

Featured image courtesy of The Triboro Banner.