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VI Public Services Commission Approves Solar Energy Addition to VI Energy Portfolio

As a senior advocacy group, AARP VI constantly monitors the activities of agencies that ultimately impact on the quality of life for people age 50+ in the Virgin Islands. One such agency is the Public Services Commission (PSC) which has the authority to raise or lower the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC) and to approve new utility services for those who wish to enter the public service arena.

The PSC’s recent approval of solar energy to be added to the energy production mix is yet another step toward achieving the Governor’s goal of a 60 percent reduction in fuel oil dependence by the year 2025. The solar project approved by the PSC will consists of six power generating sites that will sell their power to the Water and Power Authority (WAPA). The three companies, Toshiba International Corporation, Lanco Virgin Islands and Sun Edison, have agreed to build, operate and maintain solar sites on both St. Thomas and St. Croix. Together they will produce 18 megawatts of power or about 14 percent of the territory’s electrical demand. The cost to produce the solar power is estimated to be around 16 and 17 cents per kilowatt which is far less than WAPA’s costs. While estimated to be of only a small help ($1-$2 a month) it will be yet another element to help lower the consumer’s total bill.

Not all the locations for the solar projects have been determined. In St. Croix it is expected that there will be one toward the east end, one mid-island near Home Depot and one on the west end of the island. In St. Thomas the main site will be on the roof of the Tutu Park Mall with a second site of ground installed panels expected near that island’s Home Depot.

During the same PSC hearing, Commissioners also approved lowering the dreaded LEAC which compensates WAPA for the fluctuating cost of oil they require to produce electricity. They also temporarily raised the utility’s base rate which pays for bond debt service, administration of the utility and other costs associated with running the utility.

The net result of the two actions, (adding solar energy to the VI energy portfolio and increasing the base rate) is estimated to produce an average decrease of about $8.44 per month for residential consumers according to Hugo Hodge, Jr. Executive Director of VI WAPA. This is great news for seniors on fixed incomes.

For ongoing information about the Virgin Islands’ progress toward the Governor’s 60 percent reduction of dependency on fossil fuel by 2025, continue to visit AARP VI for the latest information. If you have a comment or question please take advantage of the comments section area under this web story or join the ongoing conversation in the blog area to the right of our AARP VI home page.
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