Meeting last week, Government Employees’ Retirement System board members never mentioned Hugo Hodge, former executive director of the Water and Power Authority, but it certainly appears he was being talked about.
After a heated debate and a retreat into an executive session, the board gave Hodge’s company, HKT Energy, a contract for $109,375. According to Austin Nibbs, administrator of GERS, the contract to HKT Energy Group is for technical assistance in the development of a strategic energy plan for the Havensight Mall.
All the board members appeared in support of Havensight Mall coming up with an alternative to using WAPA for power.
“They are mashing up the economy of St. Thomas,” said board member Ronald Russell. And Nibbs agreed, saying, “WAPA is hampering operations at Havensight every week.”
However, St. Thomas board member Andre Dorsey asked that the board have more discussion before approving the contract. Russell said he didn’t think the board had time for that, the situation was “urgent.”
Dorsey at first said the proposal should not even have been on the agenda. He said it had been killed in an earlier remote vote.
Nellon Bowry, chairman of the board, and Nibbs kept emphasizing that the problem was that HKT was the only bidder on the contract. Dorsey wanted the project to go out to bid again. Nibbs wanted the project to begin next month.
Dorsey said awarding the contract was like playing musical chairs “bringing back the same players.” He said to Bowry the HKT company had people “who were former WAPA like yourself.”
Bowry told Dorsey he was walking on “dangerous ground.” Bowry worked several years at WAPA and for a period served as interim executive director.
Hodge served eight years as executive director at WAPA. Now he is listed as president and CEO on the HKT Energy website. Dorsey said that a presentation given to the board where the person whose name was not being mentioned was just a member of a team might be a false impression.
But, when on Tuesday evening this reporter clicked on the “Our Team” link at the HKT Energy website, no other names came up.
Next to Hodge’s photo part of the text said, “Hodge served an eight-year tenure as Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. Under his leadership, the authority embarked on an ambitious strategic plan to bring state-of-the-art solutions by which both electricity and potable water are generated and distributed throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. He committed himself to leading a utility that efficiently served the people of the Virgin Islands as the very best steward of the public’s dollar.”
Other board members attending last week’s meeting, which is on YouTube, via Zoom were Vincent Liger, Dwane Callwood, and Leona Smith. Michael McDonald was absent.