Virgin Island Utilities Reduce Power & Water Rates

Effective Dec. 1, 2008 residents will see a 34-percent drop in electric LEAC rates, from $0.322317 per kilowatt hour to $0.211661 per kilowatt hour, which will take the average consumer’s bill down by $55.35, or 27.2 percent. The average commercial customer -- those businesses using about 1,200 kilowatt hours -- will see their bills drop by $143.91, or 25.5 percent, while the average large power customer will pay $4,428.24, or 28.3 percent, less.

The reduction reflects the continued drop in prices at the pumps, according to Hugo Hodge, V.I. Water and Power Authority executive director. Crude-oil prices peaked in July 2008 at $147 per barrel, and have since fallen by about 60 percent, capping at nearly $60 per barrel, he explained. “This is the lowest it’s been since March 2007,” Hodge said.

Though WAPA’s petition to the PSC to lower the rates called for a Jan. 1 2009 implementation date, Hodge said the authority could afford to push it up a month earlier. The continued decline in oil prices, coupled with a new $40 million line of credit and the payment of $17 million outstanding from the government, has put the authority in a better financial position.

For water customers, LEAC rates will fall from $13.72 per thousand gallons to $5.81 per thousand gallons -- a drop of 58 percent, or $19.09 for the average residential customer using 2,400 gallons per month. While WAPA officials made a plea to the Public Service Commission for the reinstatement of the automatic LEAC -- which is triggered when the price of oil increases or decreases by $1.75 -- PSC members voted not to approve the petition. They did, however, decide to reevaluate LEAC rates every three months.

Virgin Islands Commercial Investment

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