HURRICANE RECOVERY? WAPA Plunges St. Thomas Into Darkness ‘To Protect Generators’ … Mid-Island St. Croix and F’sted Also Off
WAPA’s Clinton Hedrington
CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) said it stopped producing electricity for St. Thomas and St. John for six hours on Sunday “to protect its generators.”
WAPA claimed that a fault in an underground transmission line was the reason for the extended blackout on St. Thomas.
Meanwhile, on St. Croix, from Estate Cottage at mid-island to the St. Croix Educational Complex High School across from the University of the Virgin Islands to Frederiksted, people here were complaining that they were without electricity for long periods of time this morning.
“Line department crews have been dispatched to identify the cause of service interruptions on St. Croix Feeders 6A and 9A,” WAPA said in a statement published on Facebook. “Efforts are being made to restore service to the affected customers as quickly and as safely as possible.”
On St. Thomas, some WAPA customers said that the outage started as a brownout with some people receiving low voltage from the authority and others receiving no electricity at all.
“Electrical service was restored to customers in the St. Thomas – St. John district at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night, hours after three generating units tripped at the Randolph Harley power plant,” WAPA said. “The unit’s [sic] fell off-line at 2:20 p.m. Sunday after a fault was detected in an underground transmission line. The location of the fault was identified and isolated to facilitate the service restoration process.”
WAPA said that the “fluctuating voltage” forced them to take down three generators at the Harley facility to “prevent permanent damage to the plant.”
“Interim Chief Executive Officer Clinton Hedrington, Jr. apologized to the public for the inconvenience caused by the Sunday afternoon service interruption,” WAPA said on Facebook. “He also expressed his gratitude to the WAPA employees who worked tirelessly for hours to troubleshoot and isolate the fault. The fault resulted in the units tripping followed by the feeders falling off-line. Feeders provide electrical service to residential and commercial customers.”
Morning drive radio talk show host Web Fingers of The Buzz 104.3 FM told people on St. Thomas that they needed to keep gasoline in their generators because WAPA can take us back to hurricane times without notice.
Additionally, WAPA said 100 customers in Estate Dorothea and Upper Caret Bay lost power overnight when a car struck a utility pole on Saturday night and the authority determined that gusting winds were too strong to try to make repairs right after the accident.
Instead, WAPA crews waited until Sunday morning to make the needed repairs and they did not finish until the afternoon.