WAPA Director Kupfer Responds to Delegate Plaskett’s State of Emergency Call

WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer in August testifying before the Senate Finance Committee. (File photo)
WAPA CEO Lawrence Kupfer (File photo)

Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Lawrence J. Kupfer has issued a strongly worded response to recent correspondence from Congressional Delegate Stacey Plaskett calling for a state of emergency to be declared at WAPA.

Kupfer’s response came in a letter to Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. on Tuesday. Plaskett had written to both Bryan and Senate President Novelle E. Francis Jr. last week regarding what she described as an “energy crisis” at WAPA while calling for extraordinary action to bring immediate relief to the utility’s customers.

Kupfer said Plaskett’s reference to the problems at the Authority being insidious in nature is a slap in the face to the hardworking men and women of WAPA who regularly put life and limb on the line to maintain and restore power. He also maintained that the delegate “ignores WAPA’s plans to address our challenges with the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission and the transformation plan that we have developed and are executing.”

Kupfer wrote that WAPA sees no basis for the requested state of emergency as many of the initiatives Plaskett proposed have already been or soon will be taken up by the Authority.

With reference to the delegate’s call for “radical reform” that she insists must take place to bring in technical and financial assistance from federal agencies, Kupfer said, “There is no need, to seek a radical reform in order to gain access to resources that are not only currently available but being utilized daily by the Authority.”

Kufper reassured the governor that many of the initiatives suggested by the delegate were long being pursued by WAPA. Among them: technical expertise from the Department of Energy for generation planning; petitioning HUD to reevaluate V.I. allocations in the Bipartisan Budget Act; seeking RUS funding; and tapping into additional federal assistance for the Virgin Islands.

WAPA believes the delegate’s letter has been spurred by information that she has received from those that wish to see the Authority operating under private ownership or court intervention, and that would receive substantial consulting and legal fees through a reorganization. “We have seen in recent weeks a plethora of so called ‘experts’ that have taken to social and print media to provide grossly inaccurate and misleading information on Authority operations,” Kupfer said.

We note that the delegate states in her letter that her conclusions are “the results of a thorough analysis of the root causes of WAPA’s financial insolvency and operational deficiencies.” Kupfer asked the delegate to provide a copy of these root cause studies so that all understand the basis for her conclusions.

“I invite Delegate Plaskett to sit down with WAPA’s leadership and allow us to share accurate information, and discuss ways in which she can assist us and the people of this territory,” Kupfer said.