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June 26, 2023


Marquis McGregor, Electrical Engineer III at the VI Water and Power Authority


Microgrid on St. John Sees Progress

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (“WAPA” or “Authority”) would like to provide the public with an update on its goal to introduce microgrids to the Territory as the Authority continues to prioritize grid reliability and redundancy to reduce outages for its customers.

Microgrids are a small-scale power grid that receives and/or produces power from renewable energy sources, energy storage devices, and other power generation units, such as the main power plant. Among the range of benefits, microgrids will enhance the resilience of the Authority’s local energy supply by providing backup power during grid failures, such as loss of generation at the Richmond power plant on St. Croix or the Randolph Harley power plant on St. Thomas or outages caused by vehicle accidents or overgrown trees. Further, microgrids can also operate independently and continue supplying electricity to critical areas—for instance, hospitals during a tropical storm—improving reliability and reducing service disruptions.

On St. John, where the Authority intends to introduce its first of three microgrids in the Territory, a feasibility study began earlier this year in February. Taking the lead on the first step of this project, the Authority’s System Planning department is collaborating with contractors EE Plus, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Sargent & Lundy to assess the current microgrid project proposal for St. John. The project is expected to include 4 megawatts of renewable solar generation, an emergency generation unit and a corresponding battery energy storage system (BESS).

“The team and I are diligently at work on these microgrid projects for the Territory,” stated Marquis McGregor, Electrical Engineer III within the System and Planning Department at the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. “We are most excited about the potential and possibilities as these projects come to a close with what we’ll be able to do with BESS as well as the alternative energy resources,” added McGregor.

Upon completion of the feasibility studies, findings will be submitted to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review and approval, followed by design, procurement, and construction. The current microgrid project slated for St. John will be funded 90% through FEMA with a 10% local match.

Project proposals are underway on St. Thomas and St. Croix, and information will be forthcoming as the Authority implements steps toward improved energy efficiency, reduced transmission losses, integration of renewable energy sources and enhanced grid resilience.

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