WAPA Board Approves Materials for Continued Recovery; Restoration Projects Top Meeting Agenda

WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer testifies before the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday.
WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer

The governing board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) on Monday approved a number of matters related to the continued recovery and restoration of the electrical generation, transmission and distribution systems. All items related to the restoration effort are reimbursable by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Among the approved restoration-related items:

· Materials purchase from Electric Supply of Tampa for permanent repairs on St. Croix in the amount of 386,333.24

· Amendment to an existing contract with ABB Inc. to replace a damaged switchgear at the East End electrical substation on St. Thomas. The additional costs increase the total contract to $4.3 million. The increase stems from additional engineering time for design and drawing changes to GIS, labor hours and increased project and site management. The East End substation was severely damaged in the 2017 hurricanes and has been out of service since.

· Contract amendment with FX Bonnes to provide engineering services for the East End Substation restoration project. The amendment to the contract is for a one-year time extension at a cost of $316,000, increasing the overall contract cost to $675,000.

· Change order to an existing contract with Haugland Energy for the installation of composite poles and completion of permanent work on St. Croix, the western end of St. Thomas and Water Island. The change order expands the scope of services, increases the overall costs by $221 million and extends the end date to be Dec. 31, 2019.

· Change order to an existing contract with BBC Electrical Service for installation of composite poles and completion of permanent repairs on St. Thomas and St. John. The change order extends the contract to Dec. 31, 2019, at a cost of $15.5 million.

· Addendum to a consignment purchase agreement for the purchase of additional large materials such as poles, transformers and wire. The contract change allows for additional materials to be procured and for the cost of expedited freight to the territory. The materials will be used in both district line departments. The addendum totals $2.9 million increasing the total consignment contract with American Wire Group to $8.4 million.

The governing board also approved a 60-day time extension on a water line installation project in Orange Grove, St. Croix. The new contract end date is Dec. 31, 2018. Approval was also rendered to a health insurance employee benefit renewal package. The package represents a 5 percent increase for the Authority.

The board deferred action on three other agenda items pending the receipt of additional information on the initiatives and their respective funding source.

Executive Director Lawrence Kupfer provided an overview of operations in the electric and water systems at WAPA for October. Plant generation totaled 72.5 megawatts for the month of October, this is approximately 5 percent lower than September. On the water side, WAPA continues to struggle with maintaining adequate water service to the west end of St. Croix. Kupfer told board members new pumps will be installed in January that should eliminate this problem.

Board members in attendance included: Chairwoman Elizabeth Armstrong, Vice Chairman Hubert Turnbull, Secretary Juanita Young, Commissioner Devin Carrington, Director Marvin Pickering, Noel Loftus, and Cheryl Boynes Jackson. Commissioner Nelson Petty Jr. and Gerald T Groner Esq. were excused.