Governor John P. Dejongh Jr said in August that the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) has signed two 20-year power purchase agreements, and the Virgin Islands Waste Management Authority (WMA) has signed two 20-year solid waste management services agreements with affiliates of Denver-based Alpine Energy Group LLC, to build, own and operate two alternative-energy facilities to serve the residents of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas. The alternative-energy facilities, to be built on St. Croix and St. Thomas, with a projected cost of $440 million, will convert an estimated 146,000 tons per year of municipal solid waste into refuse-derived fuel (RDF) using WastAway Services technology, which will combine with petroleum coke as fuel to generate steam and electric power.

“These plants will begin moving WAPA away from complete dependency on fossil fuel for electric power generation and water production, and it will be the first time in Virgin Islands’ history that fossil fuel has not been used to generate electricity and potable water. It is also the first time that the government has developed a viable solution to the landfill and solid waste issues in the Virgin Islands,” DeJongh said. “Using this combination to address solid waste management and energy needs is a step we hope will further inspire the other Caribbean nations, which have experienced similar challenges, to consider alternative and renewable-energy fuel sources to make energy more affordable for their utility customers.”

The governor said that when he came into office in 2007, his administration faced significant challenges as it relates to the cost of electricity and the management of solid waste.

WAPA Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said that in 2007, the utility issued a request for proposals to renewable-energy providers to develop a practical and environmentally friendly solution to rising fuel prices in the Virgin Islands.

“After reviewing 14 proposals, we selected Alpine as our first alternative-energy solution because it not only provides a supply of lower cost electricity, but also helps to satisfy the Virgin Islands’ solid waste issues,” Hodge said. “The power purchased agreement will now be forwarded to the Public Services Commission for review.”

Construction is expected to begin in May 2010 with an anticipated completion date in 2012. Each facility will divert essentially all the municipal solid waste from landfills and provide 33 MW of electric power to St. Thomas/St. John and 16 MW of electric power to St. Croix.