Above: Governor John de Jongh and officials at the ceremony Monday (Photo: OG)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The US Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority has signed solar power and purchase and interconnection agreements with three companies to provide energy for the territory.
The agreement will provide approximately nine megawatts of solar energy per district into WAPA’s electrical grid.
“There’s no doubt that for many of us, the issue of cost of energy is something that each of us is extremely sensitive to,” USVI Governor John de Jongh said following the ceremony Monday. “Today with the signing of these agreements, with the negotiations that have taken place, this is but one step in the process WAPA is taking to diversify its generation portfolio.”
The US Virgin Islands suffered a major blow to its energy supply when the HOVENSA oil refinery, the largest in the Caribbean, closed earlier this year. It had been the primary source of fuel for the territory.
According to WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge, Jr, the 18 megawatts of solar power will represent approximately 15 percent of the USVI’s peak load.
“This securing of a certain portion of our generation portfolio, which has no tied to a commodity that can fluctuate in the market, is a significant step,” Hodge said.
There will be three St Croix solar array sites placed across the island. On St Thomas, the solar arrays will be constructed on the canopy-covered parking at Tutu Park Mall, as well as near the Home Depot.
St John and Water Island, while not having any arrays of their own, will benefit from lower energy costs.
Construction of the sites, which will not require a cash outlay from WAPA or the government, will begin upon approval of the Public Services Commission of the rates to support the power purchases.
The companies that signed the agreements included Sun Edison, which has deployed similar projects in Puerto Rico and Hawaii, Lanco Group and Toshiba International.