Sen. DeGazon submits bill to establish a full-time PSC
Frustrated with the ongoing issues with the Virgin Islands Power Authority and the lack of power within the Public Service Commission, Sen. Allison DeGazon submitted a bill that would establish a full-time PSC.
Currently, the members of the PSC are essentially volunteering their time, effort and expertise in critical decisions on the territory’s utilities and infrastructure.
According to DeGazon, the bill would give the commission more authority along with having paid full-time commissioners.
“It would be more cost effective having a full-time PSC. This would reduce payouts to consultants which is currently at $1 million or more annually,” DeGazon said.
Last month, PSC officials—Executive Director Donald Cole—complained that the work of the commission requires the review of hundreds of pages of technical, financial and legal information in advance of each meeting—which go on for hours—and the stipend given does not approach the minimum wage.
A full-time commission would remove that issue.
The contents of the bill will be made through working sessions—with one to take place within a few days--with her colleagues in the 33rd legislature and PSC members to establish the model and expected outcomes and produce the best legislation possible.
“This would create more accountability and apply pressure on WAPA to submit accurate information in a timely manner,” DeGazon said.
The bill comes at a time when Virgin Islanders are at their wits end with WAPA, especially after a recent announcement that it would be issuing 60-day billing cycles and that APR Energy has announced that effective Wednesday afternoon, it will suspend power generation services to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority following a default in payments. WAPA is said to owe APR millions of dollars.
“I agree with the community that it’s time to take bold action to manage the WAPA ordeal and this legislation is a strong step towards protecting our residents,” DeGazon said.