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The League and AARP Join Forces to Launch Inform to Educate Series

Virgin Islands utility payers should begin to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that both the VI Energy Office and the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) are making significant headway to bring down the cost of energy and water for all consumers.

On August 6, 2011, AARP Virgin Islands and the League of Women Voters-Virgin Islands (LWV-VI) in partnership held a luncheon program as part of the LWV-VI’s Inform to Educate Series. The luncheon was the first in the series titled “Reducing Energy Costs.” Featured presenters were WAPA’s Executive Director, Hugo Hodge who spoke on the topic of “LEAC” and VI Energy Office Director, Karl Knight, who spoke about “The USVI Energy Road Map.” The forum was moderated by LWV-VI St. Croix Unit Member, Francine Lang. Membership Co- Chair, Gwen Brady gave the program introduction.

VI Energy Office Director, Karl Knight gave an update on EDIN which stands for Energy Development in Island Nations. EDIN is an international partnership focused on addressing the unique energy challenges islands face. The Virgin Islands joined EDIN in February 2010 forming the EDIN-USVI initiative. The LWV and AARP are two of the local partners participating in the workgroups and on various committees. EDIN-USVI is a joint initiative that provides technical assistance and facilitation to achieve the goal of reducing the territory’s dependence on fossil fuel to 60 by 2025. Mr. Knight provided highlights from a new publication, “USVI Energy Road Map: charting the Course to a Clean Energy Future.”

As many of these new infrastructure initiatives roll out consumers should see a corresponding reduction in their utility cost. However, in the meantime ratepayers are strongly encouraged to take steps to reduce their own electrical costs. By placing timers on water heaters, changing traditional light bulbs to energy efficient LED lights, replacing old, non-Energy Star electrical refrigerators, stoves and other major appliances and, turning off all lights and appliances not in use, residents can do their part to bring down their own electric bills. Finally, Mr. Knight discussed cost three programs offered by the VI Energy office: 1) The Weatherization Program, 2) the audit and assistance programs offered to assist small businesses, and 3) other rebate programs for both individuals and businesses. The public can obtain more information on these topics online.

Executive Director Hodge spoke about the WAPA commissioned Siemens Caribbean Power Grid Feasibility Study. This WAPA directed study looks at several ways of connecting Puerto Rico’s electrical grid to St. Thomas, St. Croix, and the British Virgin Islands. Mr. Hodge followed this presentation with a detailed discussion on the Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC). He not only defined the LEAC and how it came into being, but supplied the audience with important information on what WAPA has been doing to lower costs for electric and water for residential consumers in the VI. For more information on these topics and the full study performed by Siemens, please visit the WAPA website.

AARP and LWV-VI are encouraging the public to get involved in energy education. For questions that were asked at the Forum and not televised as part of the TV coverage, please visit the LWV website.