St. John Tradewinds News

WAPA Unveils New Plan for STJ Emergency Power

Photo courtesy of Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority Facebook page.

A top official of the Water and Power Authority recently told a federal judge they want to amend their plans for providing clean power to St. John.

Proposed changes to that plan, included in a 2016 consent decree, call for construction of a new emergency generator in Coral Bay.

Currently St. John has no means of providing emergency power. The Silver Arrow generator in Estate Enighed has not been put in service for close to five years, government attorneys told District Court Judge Curtis Gomez at a Feb. 28 hearing.

A complaint filed in 2014 said Silver Arrow, along with the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas, was violating federal clean air regulations. In the case of the St. John emergency generator, changes to use of non-road diesel fuel and corresponding changes to local permits allowing for use of non-road diesel were required.

When it was functional, Silver Arrow powered Cruz Bay areas immediately surrounding the town during WAPA outages.

“At all times, the St. John 2.5 MW diesel engine (‘St. John Unit’) … has been a major source of HAP emissions,” court documents say.

WAPA’s Chief Operating Officer Greg Rhymer told Gomez about the modified proposal to add a second emergency power and other improvements.

“In the St. John facility, you were supposed to have a diesel facility that was supposed to have complied with the requirements,” the judge said.

“The unit has not worked in 4-5 years. We are currently working to scrap that portion of the plan,” Rhymer said.

In its place St. John emergency generators would get new generators. The operations chief told the court he expects those new units will be identified by late 2018. Utility officials are already seeking permits from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

The judge said he was pleased to see WAPA‘s efforts to meet the mandates in the consent decree and in some areas to surpass them. He added that if the Silver Arrow is replaced and if a second generator is established in Coral Bay modifications will have to be made to the decree to reflect those changes.