The Westin Resort will be installing solar panels throughout the resort after the St. John CZM approved the resort’s request to install solar panels over its maintenance and parking areas, tennis courts, beach pavilions and any other surfaces – including the roofs of all buildings after a hearing on August 20.
Management committee granted the largest St. John resort permission to install enough solar production to be able to go “off the grid” after a sparsely-attended hearing on August 20 prior to the contentious hearing on the St. John Marina proposal.
“With this in mind, Westin will now have the ability to be ‘off the grid’ if necessary” with the massive installation of solar panels approved by the full CZM committee, according to the CZM staff report.
The St. John committee members approved the installation of a solar power generation system which will change the look of the resort from the surrounding residential neighborhoods on the hillsides above the resort – although some members admittedly weren’t sure if it would be for better or for worse for neighboring property owners — and potentially relieve the resort of the territory’s onerous public utility rates by virtually covering every usable surface with solar panels.
“The modification will allow for the installation of solar panel structures throughout the resort and is consistent with the use permitted under the issuance of the (original 1983) permit,” according to the Findings and Analysis by the CZM staff prepared for the committee members.
“Does Not Substantially Alter” Permit
The CZM staff officially found that the solar installation “does not substantially alter or modify the scope, nature or characteristics of the existing permit.”
“…the system size will be approximately 987 kW with an estimated yearly output estimated (sic) at 1584 MWh… according to the applicant,” the CZM staff wrote in a memorandum to committee members.
The installation will be performed by “… a solar company with basic goals such as to connect the consumer with their own energy generating potential and to enable the consumer to make their own energy choices,” according to the CZM staff report.
The structures “will be designed for 150 mph winds.”
“Westin has been a forerunner in technology,” St. John CZM chairman Andrew Penn said after the vote.
“Modification” of Original Permit
Technically, Westin had requested a modification of the original Major CZM Permit for what is now the Westin Resort. The request for modification was submitted on May 21, 2014, according to the CZM staff report.
“The purpose of the project is to incorporate different types of solar structures within the Westin master plan,” according to the CZM staff report.
“The project would include the new build of a car port structure to hold a solar array, the new build of a ‘high bay’ cover at the tennis courts to hold a solar array, the installation of roof mounted solar arrays on various existing buildings, and the new build of several pavilions for solar arrays.”
“There will be eight mini pavilions to replace existing canvas cabanas,” the request stated. “These pavilions will be of similar sizes as the cabanas, designed with gently sloping canvas roofs.”
The new version of the resort’s Snorkels Restaurant will be of the same basic construction, according to the CZM staff report.
CZM Members Agree
In their vote to approve the request, the three members of the St. John CZM agreed with and approved the Request for Modification with staff-recommended provisions – before an almost empty legislative hall.
As opposed to the second item on the agenda, the St. John Marina, all three members of the St. John CZM committee were able to hear and vote on the Westin Resort application “to allow for the installation of solar panel structures throughout the resort.”
Meanwhile, the crowd assembled for the controversial St. John Marina hearing already was overflowing the lobby, the second-floor veranda, the winding outdoor stairwell and spilling onto the sidewalk outside the St. John Legislature Building waiting for one of the 75 seats which are rarely filled for official legislative audiences – or destined to wait outside the hearing until called to testify.