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Tuesday, October 17 2017 @ 12:58 PM AST

U.S. Virgin Islands makes progress reducing fossil fuel dependence

SOURCE: Virgin Islands Energy Office

Since 2009, the U.S. Virgin Islands Energy Roadmap, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Interior has successfully guided the Virgin Islands energy milestones. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Government of the Virgin Islands entered into a second phase entitled the Energy Transition Initiative which enabled a second Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be executed between the two parties once again. The Energy Office is presently seeking to identify funding for several key projects that have already been pre-identified in the MOU Implementation Plan.

The VIEO has also received grant funding in the amount of $510,000 awarded by the U.S. Department of Interior’s – Office of Insular Affairs through its Empowering Insular Communities 2016 Opportunity to support continued Energy Transformation efforts in the territory.

Successful efforts that account for the 20% reduction lead by the Energy Office and the Water & Power Authority since 2010 include:

- WAPA installs waste heat recovery plant, adding 19 MW of power without burning a single drop of additional oil. (2010)
- VIEO awards nearly $1 million to USVI nonprofits for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through ARRA funding. (2010)
- A 448-kW photovoltaic (PV) system was installed at the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas, to date one of the largest PV systems in the Caribbean saving the Port Authority nearly $1,000 per day in electricity costs.(2011)
- WAPA expands the use of reverse osmosis to desalinate water. (2011)
- VIEO utilizes ARRA funding to aid the Department of Public Works in replacing traffic lights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). (2011)
- In October 2011, building energy efficiency upgrades were completed on 11 schools for an energy cost-savings of $1.3 million the first year and $1.7 million the second year, which led the USVI government to authorize $35 million in funding in 2013 to install lighting and water retrofits in 34 more schools and education buildings.(2011)
- WAPA improves interconnection process to increase the speed and scale of renewable energy adoption in the USVI (2012)
- NREL study shows that the St. Thomas and St. Croix system are capable of handling a combined 45 MW of wind and solar without adversely affecting grid stability (2012)
- VIEO announces the installation of more than 900 solar water heating systems since the Sun Power Loan Program launched in March 2010. (2013)
- WAPA breaks ground on 4mW solar project breaks ground on St. Croix and 5mW solar project breaks ground on St. Thomas (2013)
- VIEO completes collection of 1 Year of “bankable” wind data on St. Thomas and St. Croix (2013)
- A 100-kw wind turbine installed at Lorraine Village Apartments on St. Croix—the largest in the territory. (2013)
- WAPA propane conversion project breaks ground on St. Croix and St. Thomas. (2014)
- WAPA 4mw Solar Farm goes online in St. Croix breaking the utility’s 100% dependence on fossil fuel. (2014)
- WAPA 5mw Solar Farm goes online in St. Thomas. (2015)
- The cost of oil coupled with WAPA’s energy efficiency and utility scale projects lowers fuel to 29¢ / kWh. (2015)
- More than 1200 PV systems have been installed throughout the territory since February 2010, and nearly 15 MW of distributed solar PV are either in place or under construction. (2015)
- St. Croix propane conversion project undergoes commissioning phase. (2016)

The 2016 MOU Implementation Plan has identified another round of projects to further the USVI transition to a more sustainable energy system through energy efficiency and local, renewable energy resources. The MOU will provide a framework for collaboration between the Government of the Virgin Islands and the U.S. Department of Energy. It was designed to assist and further energy efficiency and renewable energy efforts in the territory. It re-emphasized a commitment made by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to provide technical assistance through DOE’s national labs and the Virgin Islands Government’s commitment to transition away from dependency on fossil fuels by implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Using the Energy Transition Initiative developed in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands, these energy milestones have brought both national and international acclaim to the territory.

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