Citing a troublesome lack of spare generating capacity, the BVI Electricity Corporation is moving ahead with a multimillion-dollar expansion plan that will require new government borrowing.


The “phase five expansion” plan will add an extra seven to 15 megawatts of generating capacity to the Pockwood Pond generation facility, BVIEC General Manager Leroy Abraham said.

“The greatest challenge that the corporation faces is that when our existing generators are taken out of service either for planned or unplanned reasons we have very limited spare capacity to replace them,” he said. “Because of that we incur the occasional blackout or load-shedding.”

Currently, the Virgin Islands’ electrical grid experiences a “peak demand” of 30 megawatts and has a theoretical maximum generating capacity of 38 megawatts.

But that capacity can change quickly.

“At this point in stage, unfortunately based on the deficit that we have and the current assets which are due for retirement, we have a shortfall of some 15 megawatts of power,” he said.

At a public ceremony held at the BVIEC’s offices on May 28, officials unveiled bidders’ proposals to participate in two aspects of the expansion project: one to increase generation capacity and another to bolster the ability to transmit and distribute electricity over the grid.

The Finland-based manufacturer Wartsila was the only company that submitted a bid to supply the generators. Under the proposal, the BVIEC would pay $42.7 million for diesel-fueled generators, the system currently used, or $38.1 million if propane is burned instead.

For the transmission and distribution component, the firm K-Line International Canada offered two alternatives to complete the project, each of which would cost $3.8 million.

The firm was the only bidder.

Both companies have a long history with the BVIEC, Mr. Abraham said.


See the June 5, 2014 edition for full coverage.