WAPA Putting Wärtsilä Generation Unit 5 Into Service; Improvements in Fuel Efficiency and Resilience Expected

Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas. (Source file photo)

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA or Authority) Wärtsilä Generation Unit 5 was successfully energized last week for the first time as part of the Authority’s ongoing St. Thomas Randolph Harley Power Plant (RHPP) New Generation Project. Unit 5 is one of four new Wärtsilä generators being placed into service at Randolph Harley Power Plant

The project, which will see the introduction of four additional energy efficient Wärtsilä generators and a battery energy storage system (BESS) to the Randolph Harley Power Plant, is slated for completion in August 2023, operating initially on diesel with operation on propane to follow shortly thereafter.

Completely funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Wärtsiläs enhance the territory’s fuel resilience as the generators can operate on either propane or diesel.

Furthermore, the Wärtsiläs will deliver high energy efficiency as the generators are approximately 30% more efficient than WAPA’s older generators. This will reduce fuel consumption and fuel costs.

Additionally, the new generators can rapidly respond to changes in the Authority’s power generation and maintain grid reliability, allowing for optimal performance, even during times when energy demand is high throughout the territory. This is further assisted by the battery energy storage system because the battery energy storage system acts like a large shock absorber on the electric system helping to buffer disruptions on the system.

“The Randolph Harley Power Plant New Generation Project has been a high priority for WAPA, and we are pleased to see it come to completion this year,” said CEO/Executive Director Andrew Smith. “Reliable and cost-effective energy generation for the Virgin Islands is one of the many objectives we seek to deliver as part of our Strategic Plan for the Authority.  We remain steadfast in our commitment to this goal and the implementation of the new Wärtsiläs as a significant and positive step for the territory. I would like to thank HUD, Government House, the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, the Virgin Islands Office of Disaster Recovery, our partners at Wärtsilä, and the hard-working men and women of WAPA along with all the third-party service providers who have worked so hard to make this project a reality,” said Smith.

“The Authority’s energizing of Wärtsilä Unit 5 is a significant milestone and marks a transformative moment in our administration’s journey towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future for the people of the Virgin Islands.  The new Wärtsiläs will not only enhance the territory’s power generation capacity, but also lay the foundation for a cleaner and more efficient energy landscape to benefit generations to come,” Gov. Albert Bryan Jr said.  “I commend WAPA employees and leadership for their dedication and hard work, as we collectively work with local and federal partners to improve the essential services provided by the Authority.”

Interim Executive Director and Chief Disaster Recovery Officer at the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority, Dayna Clendinen said, “We are thrilled to be able to leverage CDBG-DR Funds for this very purpose as it brings to our territory the much-needed stabilization of VI WAPA’s transmission and distribution system, which, ultimately, will improve power reliability.”

“The collaborative efforts of all stakeholders will soon bear fruit,” said Adrienne L. Williams-Octalien, Director of the Office of Disaster Recovery (ODR). “The implementation of this 95 million dollar fully federally funded CDBG-DR project will provide a cleaner source of reliable and economical power. ODR thanks the staff of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority for their unwavering commitment to bringing this priority project online in 2023.”

The Bryan-Roach Administration is investing in the territory’s people, infrastructure and future through transparency, stabilizing the economy, restoring trust in the government and ensuring that recovery projects are completed as quickly as possible. Visit transparency.vi.gov.

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Communication’s department is committed to reaching, informing, and connecting with the youngest members of the community to the eldest, through meaningful, transparent and effective communication. Visit WAPA’s website at www.viwapa.vi