Home News Local news Katrina's Costs Will Affect the Virgin Islands

Katrina's Costs Will Affect the Virgin Islands


Aug. 30, 2005 – Catastrophic Hurricane Katrina's impact will be felt in the Virgin Islands, V.I. Water and Power Authority Director Alberto Bruno-Vega said Tuesday.
His comments came at a meeting on St. John called by Delegate Donna M. Christensen to discuss WAPA issues. The storm and its aftermath continue to devastate New Orleans and adjacent areas.
"You will see escalating prices at the gas pump," he told the more than three dozen people who attended the meeting at the Legislature building. St. John residents are already paying about $3.15 for a gallon of gas, said Sen. Craig Barshinger. And the rising cost of oil will affect electricity prices in the territory.
Bruno-Vega said that 25 percent of the nation's refineries were located in the Gulf of Mexico region, an area hard hit by the storm. The area was so devastated that some offshore plants are now on Gulf Coast beaches.
He said the price of crude oil, which is used by WAPA to generate electricity in the Virgin Islands, is now around $70 a barrel. This represents an all-time high.
Bruno-Vega also said WAPA has installed three underground feeders from its Krum Bay plant to the substation on the outskirts of Charlotte Amalie as part of its hazard mitigation plan. He said he wishes the underground feeders could be extended all the way to Red Hook so they could hook up with St. John's undersea cable system.
WAPA is also looking at installing reinforced concrete poles to prevent damage in hurricanes, he said.
Bruno-Vega called on residents to cut their electric bills by conserving power. He said residents could use things like solar hot water heaters and timers on hot water heaters to cut consumption. Looking at the bigger picture, he said the territory could look to technologies like solar thermal energy, wind and hydroelectric energy to produce power for the territory.
In the United States, 50 percent of the electricity produced comes from coal, he said. Another 20 percent is generated by nuclear plants, 19 percent by natural gas, 6 percent by hydroelectric power, and only 3 percent by fuel oil.
"Here's it's 100 percent by fuel oil," he said.
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 mandates that the territory create a long-term energy plan by 2012, he said. It must reduce its reliance on imported fuel by that date.
Christensen provided a synopsis of the bill. It calls for updating a 20-year-old assessment on energy importation, consumption and alternative indigenous sources. Additionally, the act calls for protection of energy transmission and distribution lines. The act also calls for funding to implement the recommendations.

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