CRUZ BAY — The Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection, chaired by Sen. Craig W. Barshinger, met at the Legislative Conference Room Friday on St. John for a discussion relative to the modernization of the Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) electrical grid.
Hugo Hodge, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of WAPA, shared the Authority’s challenges with implementing some of the cost saving measures enacted by legislators, specifically net metering and the feed in tariff.
Net metering allows residents with renewable energy systems to feed back any excess energy to WAPA’s grid in addition to being paid the retail rate of energy. The feed-in tariff allows for the placement of renewables on the grid, and instead of paying the customer the retail rate, feed in tariff participants are paid for excess power, explained Hodge.
“While the Authority supports both net metering and the feed-in tariff, we cannot ignore the issue of how much renewable our grid can accommodate,” he said.
One of the first steps to achieving this is assessing the issue of the grid’s capacity to accommodate renewable energy sources and the possibility of subsequent grid instability. Hodge said that to address this, WAPA would be conducting an extensive study that will encompass each aspect of grid operations. The study will be completed by March 2015.
Hodge also spoke about several initiatives that are projected to bring consumers additional savings in the next year.
The Committee also considered several pieces of legislation including Bill No. 30-0387 which, if passed, would prohibit retailers from providing customers with plastic bags to carry items purchased by the customer. The measure, sponsored by Senators Shawn-Michael Malone and Nereida Rivera O’Reilly, was held in committee.
Senators and community members spoke about the irreversible damage that non-biodegradable materials like plastic bags have on the territory’s environment. Senators present questioned officials on various aspects of the measure, including issues of liability for store owners and consumers when they accept the risk of using their own materials to transport groceries. Senator Barshinger noted that it was important to explore ways to “carry our groceries without destroying the environment.”
Committee members present included Senators Clifford F. Graham and Clarence Payne III. Sen. Sammuel Sanes was also present via Skype, for the first time in the Legislature’s history. Non committee member, Senator Myron D. Jackson was also present.