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First phase of Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority microgrid plan receives funding

April 21, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
April 21, 2021

The first phase of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) plan to develop an 18-megawatt (MW) microgrid, complete with a battery storage system, for the west end of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, has received an initial allocation of federal funding, WAPA said on April 9.

The funds will cover costs associated with the design and engineering of the project. 

WAPA Interim Executive Director Noel Hodge said that $4.4 million was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on April 2.

“WAPA can now begin the engineering studies and design of the St. Croix microgrid, which encompasses one component of the Authority’s five-year Strategic Transformation Plan,” he said. “The entire project, which is federally funded, will total more than $129 million.”

WAPA said its plan calls for the development of a more efficient, reliable and resilient electrical system using federal funds that have been designated for hazard mitigation projects in the aftermath of hurricanes in 2017.

It includes the addition of new generation at the territory’s power plants, undergrounding of electrical equipment to at least 50% of utility customers, the addition of more wind and solar renewables and the installation of composite poles that can better withstand the effects of major windstorms.

As it relates to the St. Croix west end microgrid, the project includes construction of a solar generation plant and a battery energy storage system.

When completed, the 18 MW generated by the microgrid will be coupled with four megawatts of renewable energy produced by the solar facility at Spanish Town to represent 50% of the daily power generation by renewables produced on St. Croix, WAPA said.  

The approval of funding for phase one of the St. Croix microgrid comes as work is about to commence on four electrical underground projects, three on St. Croix and one on St. John.

Additionally, at the end of March, approximately 3,400 of the newer composite poles have been installed across the territory. The pole project, which is slated for completion in 2024, is about 40% complete.

WAPA “is pursuing every opportunity for initiatives such as new and efficient power generation and the addition of solar and wind to reduce the utility’s operating costs. Reduced operating costs will translate to lowering the cost of electrical service to all of our customers,” Hodge said.