Carribbean-wide power grid under discussion in Puerto Rico
May 15, 2011 - Karen Hollish - McClatchy-Tribune Regional News - The Virgin Islands Daily News, St. Thomas - energycentral.com
Officials from islands across the Caribbean gathered in Puerto Rico recently to discuss interconnecting utilities to reduce electricity costs, promote reliability and reduce fossil fuel use in their home communities.
V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen represented the territory during Friday morning's session.
The conference, which is taking place at Turabo University in Gurabo, is being hosted by the International Center for Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development.
Christensen said she had to leave the conference early to attend the end of the Children's Parade on St. Thomas. Reached at the parade, Christensen said conference participants want to build a system that interconnects all Caribbean nations.
But the first step, Christensen said, should be connecting the territory to Puerto Rico.
"We're at 40 cents per kilowatt hour, of which maybe 8 cents is really for the electricity we use," Christensen said. "This is a major issue."
Christensen said she helped procure the $469,000 in U.S. Department of Energy funds that paid for an ongoing feasibility study. That study, which is looking at what it will take to connect the territory with Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands, is expected to be finished this summer, she said.
V.I. Water and Power Authority Director Hugo Hodge Jr., who did not attend last weekend's conference, is a proponent of the interconnection concept. He said it would lower ratepayers' WAPA bills and increase the electric system's reliability.
Once the territory has a robust and reliable enough power supply to keep its lights on without interruption, it can experiment more ambitiously with renewable energy sources, Hodge said.
- Contact reporter Karen Hollish at 774-8772 ext. 304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.