WAPA Board Approves Purchase of Electric Vehicles

On Thursday, the Governing Board of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority approved the purchase of electric vehicles.

The eight electric Tesla SUVs are worth approximately $500,000 and procured entirely through an Energizing Insular Communities grant of approximately $1 million from the Department of Interior.

The WAPA power plant in Estate Richmond on St. Croix. (Source File photo)

Chairperson of the authority’s board and Director of the Virgin Islands Energy Office Kyle Fleming said, “This purchase doesn’t just mean the Authority has new SUVs. Viewed on a wider perspective, it means less resources spent on not only fuel but maintenance as well. With the adoption of electric vehicles can begin fueling our vehicles from a resource we produce – electricity.”

Director Fleming said that having electric vehicles is part of an overall strategy to transform the authority away from fossil fuels. Both solar and wind power generation are already a part of the authority’s current and future generation plans with the goal of fully eliminating reliance on fossil fuels.

Fleming also noted the Virgin Islands has a natural advantage over many stateside utilities regarding its immediate ability to utilize electric vehicles. Due to the relatively small size of the islands and the short distances driven, range anxiety, or the concern about running out of battery charge before being able to recharge, will not be a problem.

“As Director Fleming noted, not only will the new Teslas reduce our operating costs and start to transition our company to an electrified fleet,” said the authority’s CEO, “but the purchase of the Teslas also came about through the innovation of our team. The grant was originally designated for electric pickup trucks; however, commercially produced electric trucks are in high demand, and very few are being produced. The authority originally approached Ford to acquire the new electric F-150 Lighting, but Ford already had a 200,000-truck backlog with expected delivery over two years away. The team pivoted to the alternative of the Tesla SUV, successfully modified the grant, and the new Teslas will be in service for the Virgin Islands soon.”

Smith also noted that approximately $500,000 remaining under the grant is earmarked for acquiring a hybrid bucket truck, and the purchase process is well underway.

Other matters discussed included action items:

  • PR-03-22 Donald C. Francois 34.5kV and 13.8kVGas Insulated Replacement Project.
  • SC-09-22 Randolph Harley Power Plant Expansion Project Demolition of Tank#10 – Change Order #1
  • Authorization to contract with BDO USA LLP for audit services for Fiscal year 2021 and Fiscal year 2022.
  • SC-08-22 Randolph Harley Power Plant Expansion Project Demolition of IDE Foundation Addendum #2.
  • Fiscal Year 2020 Update.

Present at the meeting were board members Kyle Fleming, Juanita Young, Joel Lee, Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, and Hubert Turnbull.