by Ernice Gilbert (VI Consortium) In what would amount to one of the boldest moves in USVI government history with far-reaching impacts affecting almost every facet of life, Governor Albert Bryan on Monday announced that he plans on making St. Croix 100 percent solar-powered in a number of months by partnering with a major energy firm that could build and maintain a solar plant powerful enough to easily energize the 84-square mile island.
“We want to put St. Croix 100 percent solar and put as much solar as we can in as quickly as possible. If we have one island that’s burning the least amount of fuel possible that’s a huge solution for us,” the governor said.
If accomplished, the result would be drastically lower utility bills on the Big Island, as St. Croix is called, and among the byproducts of this reality would be a ricocheting of price reductions across industries and sectors as firms small and big save money on utilities. It would also mean more disposable income for Virgin Islanders who pay hundreds of dollars monthly to WAPA, hence stirring economic growth.
Mr. Bryan sees the current high price of oil caused by Russian’s war in Ukraine and U.S. inflation, as portending a catastrophic situation identical to the 2008 V.I. Water and Power Authority crisis. At the time, crude oil had risen above $146 a barrel and WAPA was completely reliant on fossil fuel. Therefore, as the price surged, so too did utility costs in the U.S. Virgin Islands.