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Fire At WAPA’s Richmond Plant Plunges St. Croix Into Darkness on Saturday


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CHRISTIANSTED — A fire at the Richmond power plant plunged St. Croix into an island-wide power outage for four hours on Saturday forcing businesses that stayed open to rely on generators, flashlights and candles.

The incident began about 4:30 p.m. at on Saturday when a fire erupted at the Estate Richmond power plant in a conduit associated with the excitation system of generating unit 10, causing the loss of all power generating capacity.

The Virgin islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) said that full power was restored to St. Croix at 8:30 p.m.  In April of 2015, the island suffered through a 13-hour power outage.

“Once Unit 20 has been brought on line and stabilized, personnel will begin to re-energize the feeders en route to full service restoration,” the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) said.

VITEMA estimated that Unit 20 was started at about 7 p.m., with the first round of restorations began shortly thereafter.

Meanwhile, people on the big island took to social media to vent their frustrations:

“Virgin Islanders, I just have to put this out there: how is it that on ST. CROIX the littlest rain storm results in hours-long power outages? Is the ‪#‎USVI‬ a “3rd world” territory? Maybe we are a “4th world” territory? I mean seriously…‪#‎WAPA‬ IS A DISGRACE OF A COMPANY. Hurricane Hugo was back in 1989 and now in 2015 you still can’t get your crap together?!!? Shame on you, WAPA!”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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