The V.I. Public Services Commission gave favorable reviews to two enterprises seeking to create energy at a special hearing. Deepwater Producers is planning a waste-to-energy facility on St. Thomas, while VIelectron is planning a solar area on St. John, both of which would give electricity to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority.
The four commissioners in attendance voted unanimously to give the projects qualified facility classification, which is the first and most important step in the permitting process. PSC Chairman David Hughes stated, “This conversation is not about the fundamentals of the program; I would like to be clear,” and that qualified facility status is “a fairly low threshold.”
At this point, the only two aspects being examined are: “do these firms have the financial ability to execute what they’re proposing?” and “do these firms have the financial ability to achieve what they’re proposing?” And, more importantly, are they mostly managed by criminals or by nice people? And we’ve gotten over both of those stumbling blocks,” Hughes said. PSC consultant Larry Gawlik advised approval, which “doesn’t provide them any particular authority, other than the ability to have negotiations with WAPA toward eventually forming a power sales deal and buy connection arrangement,” and that “extensive due diligence” will be performed later.
“We think this is a good conversation from the policy perspective, and we expect them to consider it,” Hughes said of the PSC’s clearance to WAPA and Waste Management. Both project submissions “were done extremely effectively,” according to Gawlik, and “they both have spots where they can go into the WAPA IRP.”
As per a report on the plan, the goal of the strategy, which was planned by Black & Veatch, an engineering consultant in 2019, is to find ways to diversify WAPA’s energy sources to “achieve a safe, sufficient, and dependable supply of energy at the lowest fair price and in an environmentally appropriate manner.” Representatives from the companies delivered short speeches explaining the scope of their operations.
Deepwater Producers is looking at a lot close to St. Thomas landfill to establish a facility for turning household trash, vegetative and construction debris, as well as other waste into electricity, according to Ray Deyoe, who serves as the senior vice president of development. According to him, the company expects to divert 300 - 350 tons of waste per day that would otherwise be disposed of to a waste-to-energy project, which will generate around 13 net megawatts of electricity. Deyoe explained, “This would be foundation load, green power ready for usage on the island.”
“Right now, we have a location next to the existing dump; there’s roughly a 17-acre tract available that’s designated for industrial use, and we’re in talks to put the program on that piece of property if it goes forward,” Deyoe said.