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WAPA Is Responsible for Blackouts


Dear Editor,
"Northside Outage" 3 hours. Why? Because the bush overgrew the power lines and choked 'em off. Several Northside residents in several areas have called WAPA in the last few weeks – to no avail – asking them to cut back the rapidly expanding bush, which has obviously got a chokehold. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to determine that with all this rain we've had of late the bush grows like mad and that the power lines are a great attraction for clinging knotty vines and ever- extending tree branches. Where is basic maintenance of power lines?
I know personally that power was out on the East End for 2-3 hours THREE nights in a row last week. Late at night, for sure, but why? One of those total blackouts was preceded by three very nasty brownouts in quick succession. These brownouts and blackouts nonetheless take an enormous toll on both household and business appliances.
And now WAPA warns residents that problems because of brownouts or blackouts aren't their problem and they're not responsible, as though we didn't know that already, unless WAPA is trying to make their point with new residents?
And the WAPA rates continue to rise. Three percent last month, another almost four percent this month and where is it going to end?
We all know that the price of oil has continued to rise and some of this we can certainly accept. But how can we honestly see justification in or be required to pay for a monopolistic, redundant, ill-equipped and apparently inefficient power system here in the Virgin Islands which can't even do basic local maintenance?
Solar and windmill power (we have plenty of both!) should be affordable to everyone here but of course it's not so. A few years ago we were offered what seemed to be a very good deal with SouthEast Energy to basically buy WAPA and turn it into a private enterprise and get it out from underneath the government. It was a great deal but flew like a big zinc cupcake…oh my!
And how much money does the Virgin Islands Government still owe WAPA? Gee, I think it's still about $13 million; WAPA's demands were well publicized in the press and assurances that governmental agencies would be shut off for non-payment seemed absolutely the right stance for WAPA to take.
Nonetheless, it all fizzled out after the government apparently paid some of its WAPA debt and promised to pay more. The only thing I read recently was that the government was trying to make some deal with WAPA to offset some of those charges which only amounted to a couple of hundred thousand dollars. Not a brilliant attempted deploy which doesn't work, gentlemen and women.
So what is the next energy ploy as the average resident tries to cope with the added burden on their minimal budget, the small business owner fights for basic survival, the general cost of living and doing business continues to escalate and prices in all areas of this community continue to rise?
Anna Clarke
St. Thomas

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