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WAPA Issues Statement On Authority’s State of Preparedness For Hurricane Season

ELECTRICITY REPORT: Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority CEO Lawrence Kupfer

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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — With the start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season (yesterday), I take this opportunity to inform you that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority continues fine-tuning its disaster preparedness plan in the event this territory is impacted by a storm system this year.

In March, WAPA completed the restoration of electric service and is now making permanent repairs to the electric grid, in addition, improvements are being made at both power plants and on the distribution systems. We are ensuring that lessons learned about how to best fare any storm system and how quickly the Authority recovers, are implemented.

While WAPA has received funding for a number of mitigation projects, we are mindful that not many will be fully implemented in advance of the 2018 hurricane season. The composite pole installation project is well on its way in St. John, getting started on St. Croix and contractors will be mobilized shortly on St. Thomas. New generators planned for both power plants are making their way to the territory and WAPA is fast-tracking acquisition, permitting and installation of the stand-alone generators for St. John. By the peak of the hurricane season, our goal is to have our plants and distribution systems in a better place with some levels of resiliency, built in. In addition, the Authority has an agreement in place with the American Public Power Association (APPA) so that crews from municipal utilities can begin mobilizing men, women and equipment should a storm threaten the Virgin Islands. In the event of an impact, those crews would be immediately dispatched to the territory.

Internally, the Authority has issued requests for proposals for private companies interested in working with WAPA to restore service in a post-storm scenario, and ensuring vendors are in place to provide materials and supplies. We have also identified strategic storage locations to safeguard the many transformers, rolls of cable and primary wire, poles, hardware and other equipment that are presently on island and would be needed in the immediate aftermath of a storm.

–Lawrence J. Kupfer/ WAPA Executive Director-CEO


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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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