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Senate Committee OKs WAPA Board Nominee

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March 27, 2008 — Gerald Groner's nomination for the governing board of the V.I. Water and Power Authority was moved forward Thursday by the Senate Committee on Rules and Judiciary. Gov. John deJongh Jr. nominated Groner in February.
The Committee, after short rounds of questioning, approved the nomination to go to the whole Legislature.
Senators at the Frits Lawaetz conference room were eager to get Groner on the board to help find ways to lower electric bills. WAPA rates have increased dramatically due to the increase in oil prices.
Sen. Carlton Dowe, chairman of the committee, asked Groner what specific things he would do to move quickly on lowering electric bills.
Groner said that in the short term he would work with Hugo Hodge, WAPA executive director, to try to reduce the cost per kilowatt-hour four to five cents. He also said he would like to see increased efficiency from the system and less line loss.
"We have to get away from 100 percent use of petroleum," Groner said. "Long-term goals would be to use alternative energy."
He said businesses and individuals should be encouraged to produce their own power and sell excess back to the system. He added that solar water heaters should be required in all new construction and at government facilities.
Groner has practiced law in the Virgin Islands for more than 27 years. He said he has served on many non-profit boards and is knowledgeable about the functions of boards and the relationship with stakeholders. He testified to an interest in energy policies since the oil crisis in 1973.
Wayne Etheridge was also under consideration as a nominee for the V.I. Board of Psychology Examiners.
Etheridge testified that he viewed the board as playing a very important role in protecting the citizens of the Virgin Islands by ensuring the delivery of the highest quality of psychological services.
He pointed out that licensing allows greater public recognition for the field of psychology, attracts more students to study psychology, authorizes reimbursement for mental health services by insurances companies and helps protest the public from fraudulent practitioners.
According to Etheridge, his short-term and long-term goals are the same: to work with the existing board to uphold the ethical standards of the profession of psychology in the Virgin Islands through fair and equitable application of the licensing regulations.
His nomination was also sent to the full body with a favorable recommendation.
Committee members at the meeting, besides Dowe, were James Weber III, Usie R. Richards and Shawn-Michael Malone.
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