wapa

The V.I. Water and Power Authority’s Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas.

My fellow Virgin Islanders, it is time we take a stand and demand that the V.I. Water and Power Authority start to work for us and not against us. We, the people of the Virgin Islands, own WAPA. We are not owned by WAPA.

Year after year, WAPA keeps spinning out of control, charging exorbitant fees for unreliable power. WAPA has been, and will keep on, hog-tying our economy if we continue to allow them to.

Do you remember when WAPA began the switch to propane fuel? It was going to decrease our WAPA rates, we were told by WAPA. What was supposed to be a $60 million investment instead skyrocketed to more than $160 million! To make matters worse, we’ve since had issues paying the propane companies.

The members of WAPA’s Governing Board have been serving for years, and have done nothing to help the ratepayers in years. This is where the problems lie. The workers at WAPA are not to blame, they do their job to the best of their ability. I applaud WAPA workers for dealing with the ineptness that has been handed down to them through the years.

We are now informed that WAPA owes its fuel supplier more than $100 million. Where has our Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause money gone? Where have the monthly billing monies gone?

The elephant in the room no one wants to talk about is that the Virgin Islands government does not pay its bills. WAPA ratepayers are saddled with that debt, year after year. Not one politician has ever addressed this issue due to its extreme sensitivity.

How about if the V.I. government would just start using less? Raise the thermostats in all government buildings, and shut off the lights when a room is unoccupied. That at least would be a start in the right direction.

We also have all had issues with WAPA billing. Say your average bill is $250 per month, and then one month it jumps to $600 for no reason at all. You go to the WAPA billing office, and they tell you they will send out a meter reader. You go back to the WAPA billing office a few days later and they tell you there is nothing wrong with your bill — pay it or get cut off.

This is wrong. We have given them a monopoly, which is illegal in the U.S. There needs to be an ombudsman set up that can have both parties sit down and discuss the erroneous bill and come to some sort of mutual agreement.

You can fight back, though. The first day of every month (set an alarm on your phone to remind you), go out and take a picture of your WAPA meter. If you are a Net Metering client, take a video of the scrolling screen, and make sure you get all numbers: 001 = delivered energy to your home, 004 = energy WAPA has received from your Grid Tied Net Metering Solar System, and 006 = the cumulative of both those numbers.

Make sure your WAPA meter number is visible in the picture. If you do that every month, you have ammunition to fight back.

I live off-grid and have for years. Many people ask me why I care about WAPA rates if I am off-grid. Well, first of all, the Virgin Islands are my home. I care about everyone here in the V.I. and I think that no one should be getting shafted by WAPA.

Secondly, when I shop in the grocery stores and pay $8 for a gallon of milk, I am paying WAPA’s high rates, too.

What is the answer to the WAPA dilemma?

I think we need a whole new Governing Board. I, for one, have lost confidence in the WAPA board, and I am quite sure many other Virgin Islanders have also.

WAPA should be privatized as soon as possible, before they go totally bankrupt and the lights go dark.

We are paying the highest electrical rates in the U.S.

Let’s Change Course Now!

— Daniel G. Boyd lives on Lovango Cay, St John.