CHRISTIANSTED — During a follow-up meeting at Government House, Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. and all 15 senators of the 33rd Legislature said they have identified funding to meet the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s outstanding obligation to its propane supplier Vitol.
The Legislature has scheduled an Emergency Legislative session for Friday, December 27, 2019, at 10 a.m. to vote on the measure to reappropriate $6 million from the Miscellaneous section of the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, Government House said.
The appropriation measure will assist WAPA in meeting its financial obligation to Vitol for December 2019 and January 2020.
Bryan emphasized that the immediate need is centered on assisting WAPA to move from diesel fuel back to the less expensive propane gas, but a long-term solution to addressing the authority’s debt to Vitol remains a top priority.
“Not being on propane fuel costs us about $200,000 a day,” Bryan said. “The senate has agreed to reappropriate funds form the Miscellaneous part of the budget to give WAPA the immediate cash they need.”
Prior to Monday’s meeting, Governor Bryan also requested that the lawmakers work alongside his Administration to develop a long-term solution to addressing WAPA’s mounting debt, which includes supporting an adjustment in the utility’s base rate.
Senators agreed to work with Bryan on a long-term solution, which includes possibly developing legislation to ensure the funds generated from a base-rate adjustment are used for that intended purpose only.
Bryan said that his administration and the Legislature have agreed that WAPA needs to fulfill its obligations to the ratepayers by making needed improvements to its management structure and by resolving costly billing discrepancies.
“We agreed to work together to hold WAPA accountable to the people. Many questions have been posed that need to be answered,” Bryan said. “Our intent is to create a solution that is well thought-out and holds WAPA accountable. Our goal, always, is to have a more reliable and affordable power grid.”