On Aug. 6, Governor John P. deJongh issued a special address regarding the current negotiation effort between the VI Government and HOVENSA.
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The address was a televised statement that was also issued via various local radio networks/stations. However, Governor deJongh’s address may have created more fear in the community rather than relief.
The news of this breakdown in negotiation regarding HOVENSA’s proposal for a revised agreement, does not allay the public fears about the upcoming lack of fuel oil for the Water and Power Authority (WAPA).
The Governor in his speech stated that the Government has flatly rejected HOVENSA’s proposal to convert its facility to a storage terminal because it “…reaps few benefits for the territory while reducing HOVENSA’s contractual obligations and granting the company further tax breaks at the expense of [VI] taxpayers.”
Additionally, Governor deJongh informed the public of the counterproposals based on the demand that HOVENSA restore its operations as a refinery. In support of the Government’s position, deJongh stated that electricity costs could soar to as much as 20 to 25 percent if HOVENSA retains its current position.
Fears created by the Governor’s speech may however be allayed by the prior news of the Public Services Commission (PSC)’s approval of an addition of solar energy into its energy production mix. The PSC’s solar project consists of six power generating sites that will sell their power to the Water and Power Authority (WAPA). Implementation of solar energy will lead to lower Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause (LEAC) rates. A good counter to the potential increase overall energy costs. But this does not solve the WAPA impending fuel crises.
In sum, there have been mixed opinions among members of the public, some applauding Governor deJongh for his stance against HOVENSA while the jury is still out as some were left with more questions than answers surrounding the state of energy costs in the territory.
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