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LEAC Up Again ... And the Alpine Merry-Go-Round Continues

 
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

Hovensa is raising it's fuel costs ... so LEAC will go up again .... and no solutions in sight.

The Alpine Project is the only positive thing that currently could happen to help lower our electric bills (a little) and resolve the landfill issue. It kills 2 birds with one stone. It is not a perfect solution, but there are none. It is better than the collective alternatives for the 2 issues. Now it drags on again; going on 3 years ... and they can't even submit the applications for the permit process to begin.

http://stthomassource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/02/09/senate-rejects-alpine-lease-killing-trash-energy-plan

It seems that all the potential issues should be out on the table at one time. But no. Every little thing in the USVI is done in series.

Now the issue has to do with the amount of MSW that is produced in the USVI and Alpine needing some commitment that it will continue at that level ... and they will get it. This is the fuel for the plant. If the fuel source goes away, then they can't make power, can't get paid and can't pay their bills / costs. So like any large project where bank loans are secured, commitments are required ... or no loan.

Does anyone really think the amount of waste will go down over time? But I could see where someone gets a bright idea to sell some of the waste for something else (... another power project, other). So Alpine and their creditors want a commitment in writing.

A very simple way to address this would be a waste / electric price adjustment agreement. Less waste provided means an increase in the rate Alpine gets paid by WAPA. The current deal is 14 cents per kWh. In very simple terms, if the amount of waste goes to 75%, then the anoint of electric produced would be 75% less. To make Alpine whole financially, the rate paid would go to 14 / 0.75 = 18.7 cents per kWh. This is still far less than the 45 cents we are paying now.

This is just one example on why businesses should be reluctant to locating in the USVI.

I would hope that the Governor would show some leadership here and get all the parties into a session to knock out all the issues / concerns once an for all ... and get on with it or kill it.

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Topic starter Posted : February 9, 2012 4:29 pm
jewelygirl
(@jewelygirl)
Advanced Member

The Alpine project has been voted down, unfortunately.

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Posted : February 9, 2012 7:21 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
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Jewelry - The article says it is only temporary, which means they will drag it out another 6 months before another hearing on it.

They want to see the MSW Supply Agreement between the USVI and Alpine first, before they will vote on a lease agreement. The legislature trusts no one, even other parts of the USVI government, to do the right / fair thing. The point is, if they approve the lease agreement, that does not automatically mean the plant will get built. Alpine still needs to go thru the whole permitting process and get approved by EPA, CZM, etc. If the Senators approved the lease agreement, what harm would it do at this point. If the plant never goes thru, we at least get some land lease monies out of Alpine.

The lack of trust and all this 2nd guessing is a real problem. This is why they all need to get in one room for a day, a week, or what ever to work thru this and move on. A lot of time and money (that we paid for) has been wasted already.

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Topic starter Posted : February 9, 2012 7:47 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
Trusted Member

A proper RFP should be issued and multiple Trash to energy proposals should be considered.

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Posted : February 9, 2012 7:59 pm
LuckyGirl56
(@LuckyGirl56)
Advanced Member

Anyone know how much LEAC's going up and when?

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Posted : February 9, 2012 8:22 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

A proper RFP should be issued and multiple Trash to energy proposals should be considered.

My problem with Alpine is that they have not one project even similar to this either operating or under construction anywhere.

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Posted : February 9, 2012 9:52 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

A proper RFP should be issued and multiple Trash to energy proposals should be considered.

My problem with Alpine is that they have not one project even similar to this either operating or under construction anywhere.

If this was some emerging technology like some of the others that the Govt and WAPA have looked into, I too would be somewhat skeptical. Like ocean thermal energy. It sounds great ... but it ain't there yet.

The only thing that is relatively new about this project is the RDF facility. This is not about Alpine. Yes Alpine is a newer company, but if you look at the bios of the lead guys, they all have a lot of power and power plant development experience. Alpine is not the plant designer, but their role is developer, financial coordinator and project management. The plant design is sub-contracted out to experienced power engineering companies.

The technologies for the power plant are a standard steam boiler and steam turbine generator, which have been used for over 100 years. The project will also use best in class (current) emissions control devices. Far better than what WAPA has now. This is not rocket science.

The RDF plant is being designed by Wastaway in Tennessee. Their parent company Bouldin provides a lot of equipment to the US military. The process that will be used in the USVI is now their 3rd generation design. Their 2nd generation design is working on Aruba for about 3 or 4 years now.

http://www.wastaway.com/links.html

http://www.bouldincorp.com/

The RDF process is similar to making puffed rice. The organic fraction of the MSW is put into a steam pressure chamber and then a hatch is allowed to quickly blow open. This breaks down the fibres of the material and it comes out like blown-in type insulation. This can be used in that form or compressed in pellets for transport. It has a high BTU content of over 7,000 BTUs per pound. This form of RDF process remediates more of the organic waste than other processes. And using this form of MSW as fuel is far superior than other licensed mass-burn waste to energy plants in the states going back 50 years.

The only issue with the Wastaway process is that it is expensive. But it sounds like they can make the numbers work financially.

I hope this eases the fears. And what other option do we have to get rid of the MSW, since the landfills are closing. We could ship it some where else, but that will cost an arm-n-leg. Or the organics could be composted. But how much compost will the islanders buy. And there still is a cost to put in a plant for separation, shredding, tenting, effluent circulation, etc. etc. The USVI is going broke. At least Alpine is bringing in money ($300M) which will create jobs to build the RDF plants and power plant along with staff for operations.

My fear in all these proceedings is that the Alpine management will get weary of all the island BS and just give up. Then what do we do?

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Topic starter Posted : February 10, 2012 2:23 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

This is not about Alpine. Yes Alpine is a newer company, but if you look at the bios of the lead guys, they all have a lot of power and power plant development experience. Alpine is not the plant designer, but their role is developer, financial coordinator and project management. The plant design is sub-contracted out to experienced power engineering companies.

But Alpine is the company to whom the contract will be given, thus will be responsible for it in its entirety and they have no record to demonstrate their ability to perform in this market. I think some healthy scepticism is in order under the circumstances.

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Posted : February 10, 2012 2:56 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

But like any company, it is made up of individuals that make the decisions. Look at their bios. I did. I see a lot of experience that counts. Plus, this project will not cost the VI anything. If it goes bust, then we are at the same place we are now, other than it will give some local people some employment along the way.

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Topic starter Posted : February 10, 2012 3:05 pm
DaChief
(@DaChief)
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It's in my opinion that you SOLVE problems before embarking on creating new problems....

1) WAPA''s currently operating at about 24% overall efficiency whenit's all said and done. The average efficiency to endpoint should be roughly 33% for the steam plants and most nearly 47% for the combined cycle systems.

2) A significant part of the WAPA's financial problems are caused by the inability of the VIG to pay their utility bills in a whole and timely manner. This causes a multitude of "financial sins", the not least of which is the inclusion of interest and late charges which are ultimately passed on to all of the ratepayers.

3) Lack of an efficient power distribution system on STX (the absence of sub-stations and overwhelming amounts of line loss due to theft and improper infrastructure maintenance which causes additional line loss because of the lack of tree trimming and set backs)

4) Less than optimum maintenance; everthing from boiler water chemistry to thermographic surveys- to rotating equipment maintenance- this reactive type of maintenance culture is an expensive, reliability robbing and frustrating vicious circle which easily spirals out of control.

I believe that we would better served with the privatization of our utilities. For profit private entities generally have a more realistic grasp on everything from fuel efficiency, long range planning, upgrades and improvements, maintenance and life cycle planning and replacements.

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Posted : February 10, 2012 3:17 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

I wouldn't say that one can state with impunity that, "this project will not cost the VI anything", unless the Source article got it all wrong.

"Several senators who voted against approving the lease said they were not necessarily absolutely opposed to the project, but were concerned that AEG was asking for a credit support bill, guaranteeing it would either get enough trash to power the plant, or the V.I. Government would make up the difference in cash, enabling it to purchase fuel.

AEG officials have said the credit support was necessary to allow it to get financing for the more than $200 million project. But it would also put the government on the hook for as much as $20 million a year, if it failed to produce enough trash. And senators had not yet seen all the details of the credit support bill, which has yet to be submitted to the Legislature."

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Posted : February 10, 2012 3:17 pm
OldTart
(@the-oldtart)
Expert

It's in my opinion that you SOLVE problems before embarking on creating new problems....
I believe that we would better served with the privatization of our utilities. For profit private entities generally have a more realistic grasp on everything from fuel efficiency, long range planning, upgrades and improvements, maintenance and life cycle planning and replacements.

We had the perfect opportunity years ago with the SouthEast proposal which seemed like a no-brainer but was squashed down amidst the usual island coconut gossip that SouthEast planned to fire all WAPA employees and bring in their own crews - which was the furthest thing from the truth. Had WAPA been sold then I have no doubt that we wouldn't be in this current mess and would have a functioning power grid at an affordable consumer price. One of the major problems here amongst those chosen to represent the people is their unfailing ability to lack foresight while the few with that ability are derided for it.

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Posted : February 10, 2012 3:26 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

Chief - I agree that cleaning up the current WAPA mess should be done. But it could be done in parallel with the Alpine project. Where would the money come from to clean up the WAPA mess since WAPA and the Govt. has no money? To do this WAPA would have to be sold (at least the generation assets) and the way things goes in the islands with RFPs, evaluations and all that .... that will take years. Alpine is bringing their own money. And this is also considered renewable with 24 / 7 operation; not like wind or solar. At least with Alpine we would be getting new more efficient equipment.

Tart - There is an $18M processing fee for the MSW. The current landfills cost money to operate now. And very soon, it will cost a whole lot more to ship it off island, since the landfills will be closed THIS YEAR do not meet EPA standards. The STT landfill receives about 400 TPD. That is a staggering 146,000 TPY. Cost then is $123.00 per ton. This is about the norm for the Wastaway system .... and is about what is paid to the landfills in metropolitan areas like New York City. I did say earlier that the Wastaway system was not cheap to build or operate.

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Topic starter Posted : February 10, 2012 7:39 pm
Lucy
 Lucy
(@Lucy)
Advanced Member

It was only a matter of time before one side or the other killed the deal. The Na-Sayers should be happy - now what? At least now the senators can focus on the 5MWe of solar PV to go in on STX and knit-pick that to death too. That is already almost 2 years in the pipeline and still no supplier selected. And that drop-in-a bucket project is also (I believe) to be on Govt. property, so there could be a "legislative slow down". Alpine has already spent $12M on this deal, so look for the lawsuits to come. The only hope is that the Fed.s move in sooner; rather than later.

http://stcroixsource.com/content/news/local-news/2012/02/16/waste-management-cancels-alpine-contract

This second link is a well articulated Op-Ed on the subject.

http://stcroixsource.com/content/commentary/op-ed/2012/02/16/alpine-journal-2042

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Topic starter Posted : February 16, 2012 2:00 pm
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