CHRISTIANSTED — Two days before Invest 91L was expected to reach the territory, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) plunged St. Croix into darkness for nearly six hours.
At least 14,000 WAPA customers were affected as a light drizzle fell on St. Croix accompanied by 19 mile-per-hour winds.
Officially, the quasi-government agency said it was a mechanical failure that left the Big Island without power from 6:19 p.m. to 10:50 p.m. on Wednesday.
On Facebook, WAPA said that Unit 20 tripped and when it did, the heat recovery steam generator at the Estate Richmond plant also failed.
People islandwide from Christiansted to Frederiksted were affected by the massive, unnecessary outage as a long line of feeders went off like a row of dominoes: 2A, 3A, 4A, 6A, 6B, 9B and 10B when WAPA didn’t supply needed electricity to allow them to stay online.
WAPA said that workers were able to bring two units online that had been previously off, allowing the 20-megawatt Unit 20 and recovery generator Unit 11 to come back online.
“Seems to be a mechanical issue with the generator in question,” a spokesman said. “We won’t know the exact cause until we have a chance to troubleshoot it.”
The WAPA spokesman, based in St. Thomas, said that power was restored to St. Croix after midnight, when actually most people had electricity restored by 11:50 p.m.
“All efforts are being made to restore service to all affected customers as quickly and as safely as possible,” the spokesman claimed.
WAPA had trouble with portions of Feeder 6A all afternoon, which led to isolated power outages affecting Betsy’s Jewel, Blue Mountain, Little Fountain, Canaan, Cane Bay, La Vallee, Club St. Croix, Colony Cove, Concordia East, parts of Estate St. John, Gentle Winds, Estate Glynn, Golden Rock, Harbor View, parts of John F. Kennedy Terrace, Judith’s Fancy, La Grande Princesse, Mill Harbor, Mon Bijou, Morningstar, Salt River and Sugar Beach.
The authority said that it send out line crews to investigate the problems, but that those efforts were not responsible for the island-wide outage that occurred just hours later.