Virgin Islands governor declares emergency to pay water, power debts

The U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. declared a local state of emergency Monday to stabilize the islands’ electrical system and pay Water and Power Authority debts after various government-dependent agencies had not been paying their bills.

The state of emergency will let the governor use the central government’s rainy-day fund to provide money to WAPA that semi-autonomous agencies of his government owe the authority. WAPA will use the money to make payments to bondholders and other creditors starting Tuesday.

Rotating power outages on the islands began occurring on April 12 because of WAPA’s cash shortage and inability to make payments on time, Bryan said at a news conference Monday.

USVI Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.

US Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. said was taking action to assure the islands’ electricity could remain on.

Bryan said the authority owed a $4 million bond payment this week and his state of emergency would assure that it was made. Additionally, the authority owes Scotland-based generator supplier Aggreko $2.3 million immediately and still being negotiated amount around $15 million to fuel supplier Vitol.

The central government’s payment to WAPA will allow it to satisfy Vitol and Aggreko as well as the bondholders, Bryan said.

Two semi-autonomous government hospitals and a government waste management facility owe WAPA $11 million, the governor said.

Along with paying off these obligations, the state of emergency will let the government create a task force to address WAPA’s short- and medium-term payments. The central government will take action to complete the Wartsila power plant transition to propane. It will expedite permits and leases to quicken the installation of renewable energy facilities for WAPA.

According to unaudited figures, as of September WAPA had $15 million of current liabilities on bonds, $470 million of current liabilities, $179 million of long-term electric system review bond debt, $284 million of total long-term debt, and $1.081 billion of total liabilities.

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