For those of you visiting right now, you might be wondering why in the heck you haven’t had power since just before midnight last night. For those of you who live here, you know why and I share your frustrations. For those of you planning a trip in the future, you might want to read on just to discover how common this massive inconvenience of a third world problem is in America’s Paradise…
Last night at about 11:30PM, the lights went out on St. John. It happens frequently, especially on days with heavy winds and rains such as yesterday…OR sometimes just because. Three days ago, Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) posted on their Facebook page that power went down at 7:30 PM with an outage affecting customers on St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island and Hassel Island. The power was restored at 12:25 AM.
The outages can generally last as long as five to six hours. Sometimes they are just a few minutes long. But, during some very special blackouts, such as this, they can span the better course of a day. As I write this, we are at about hour nine of a complete loss of power on both St. Thomas and St. John.
Last night, one resident boat captain of St. John posted to his personal page that this outage was likely going to be a long one…
“I watched something explode in St. Thomas, light up the sky and boom…everything went dark.”
And it has been that way since 11:35PM on Thursday. The last update from WAPA as to the status of repairs was 6AM this morning. It is now 10AM.
And, this morning, businesses are announcing they are closed for the day as they scramble to rescue rapidly defrosting items from coolers. Residents are packing ice into freezers and fridges in order to preserve expensive groceries from going bad. One friend of mine posted that they would be “forced to” consume and entire quart of ice cream…Out of necessity and not pleasure.
In short, as you go about your day today on St. John, or during any day with an island wide power outage, please keep in mind that many businesses will be unable to accept credit cards. As always, make sure you have some cash on hand! You might run into extreme busyness at some dining establishments as well. If residents are unable to cook or make coffee in the morning due to the power being out, places like Cruz Bay Landing will be CRAZY busy!
This is a great excuse to exercise a little patience and kindness while visit local establishments. The staff is likely dealing with downed computer systems, hand written tickets, lack of air conditioning or fans while they work and, most likely, A LOT of impatient folks who are not used to this MASSIVE yet common inconvenience of island living! After Irma, we were without power for close to two months. And these outages happen sometimes multiple times a week (Thanks WAPA!). So, yes, we are a little better equipped to deal with it. But, that doesn’t make it any easier or any less convenient.
As I finish this post up, power has started to pop back up again to different areas of St. Thomas. St. John soon come, we hope.
4 thoughts on “St. Thomas/St. John Power Outage Goes Into Twelfth Hour”
Another day in paradise. 🙂
What would a world class generating company do if given a blank slate:
1. Dispose of probably 2/3 of the generating and transmission capacity and replace with state of the art equipment.
2. Implement an aggessive maintenance program to keep systems operating at peak performance.
3. Ensure that each team member, including the board, senior and middle management, line operators and customer service have the experience, skills and performance track record to deliver first rate service.
4. Cut off big customers that don’t pay their bills timely.
This strategy would deliver reliable service at a competitive price.
Sadly, WAPA can’t do this. Decades of financial and operating mismanagment have left the utility insolvent and with an equipment base that is inefficient and unreliable. Some of its biggest customers, including the USVI government and the territorial hospitals, don’t pay their bills or pay them very late. So WAPA has a poor credit rating and can’t (and shouldn’t) borrow further funds. It is in a very difficult position.
One solution is for the citizens and businesses of the Virgin Islands to generate their own power and reduce or eliminate reliance on WAPA. They can do this with private solar and natural gas and deisel generating capacity. Don’t let WAPA’S problems drag down the rest of the economy. Hoping and waiting for tax payers on the mainland to bail us out from our previous mistakes is not a path to success. We can and should take control of our own energy future.
Fortunately many homes & condos have generators like Gallows Point Resort – even the AC runs during outages at GAllows Point!