Board of Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority OKs expansion of substation

The second phase of restoration and expansion of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s East End Electrical Substation received the green light on Aug. 10 with the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s governing board authorizing the execution of a contract with Haugland Virgin Islands to furnish and install new switchgear and associated equipment. 

When completed, the substation will function at full capacity providing more stable and reliable electrical service to the east end of St. Thomas and the island of St. John. The federally funded contract is capped at $1.1 million.

Lawrence Kupfer, the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s Executive Director, said that replacing the existing switchgear will require less maintenance, and allow the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority to maximize the facility to its full potential.

The substation was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and has been replaced with a hardened poured concrete building making it more resilient to windstorms.

In addition, the substation has been expanded to include communications, and a work area for engineers and other personnel.

Board members were told on Aug. 10 that commissioning work is underway at the new facility which in recent weeks included a tie-in to the Tutu electrical substation and the energizing of some portions of the substation. Testing is expected to continue with the substation becoming functional by the end of the month.

 The board also approved a no-cost time extension on a contract with RG Engineering to complete a transformer replacement project on St. John. The extension is for four months with a new completion date of January 31, 2021. The project was delayed due to COVID-19 related challenges.

Meanwhile, in his monthly report, Kupfer provided an overview of operations including: the impact of COVID-19 on Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority safety goals and objectives, generation capacity and demand, fuel pricing and current price spreads between liquefied petroleum gas and oil, causes of recent service interruptions, and the status of the potable water system territory-wide.