It only took a little more than half an hour for St. Thomas Coastal Zone Management Committee members to move through their agenda Thursday night, approving, among other things, a permit that would allow the V.I. Water and Power Authority to begin work on an undersea cable from St. Thomas to St. John.
At the end of last year, WAPA’s board authorized $3.3 million in funding from its budget to contract Kerite Cable Services to install and test the 18,000-foot—or more than three miles long—submarine power transmission cable, which is expected to last 30 years and replace the existing cable between the islands that will now be used as a backup.
Officials have said the cable will run from a circuit breaker in the East End Substation on St. Thomas to make it less prone to tripping.
WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said Thursday that the CZM committee’s approval will allow work to begin on the St. Thomas portion of the project, but additional approval is needed for the permit that would allow work to begin on the St. John side.
No approval is needed from the Legislature, but WAPA will also need a go-ahead from the Army Corps of Engineers, he explained.
Along with approving a request from Springhouse LLC for a permit modification that would allow the firm to expand its offices in Smith Bay, the committee also moved forward with a permit for DiamondRock Hospitality that would essentially bring the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Hotel into compliance with local CZM laws.
DiamondRock recently invested $50 million for renovations to enhance the Frenchman’s Reef Hotel. During previous Senate hearings on the subject, it was discussed that the hotel currently does not have a major CZM permit since it was built before the territory’s zoning codes were complete.
Voting in favor of the three applications were committee members Winston Adams, Fern LaBorde, Richard Brown and Austin "Babe Monsanto.