ST. THOMAS - The Public Services Commission opened the door for a wind farm to be built in the waters off the coast of St. Thomas by approving qualified facility status for Ocean Offshore Energy, LLC.
Herman Schellstede, a partner of Ocean Offshore Energy, gave a presentation to the Public Services Commission at its meeting Thursday evening about the advantages of operating a wind farm that could supply 10.5 megawatts of energy to the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s grid.
The four commission members who formed a quorum – Thomas Jackson, Joseph San Martin, Elsie Thomas-Trotman and Sirri Hammad – all voted in favor of allowing the company to be recognized as a public utility.
The company has completed an underwater survey and “identified a pathway which does not interfere with any of the coral or other shipwrecks or anything that might be there,” Schellstede said about the proposed project. The wind farm would take up about 13 acres about 80 to 100 feet off the coast and would be located to the south of the Bovoni landfill.
The company has yet to turn in its final permit applications to the Army Corps of Engineers and to the Coastal Zone Management Commission but is scheduled to do so July 17.
“We are bringing to the Virgin Islands a means of very efficiently translating the wind power into actual usable energy at a high efficient rate where we can lower our costs,” Schellstede said.
The project initially would comprise a single turbine capable of delivering 1.5 megawatts and would later be expanded to include three additional turbines capable of delivering 3 megawatts each, Schellstede said.
Ocean Offshore Energy has leased about 84,000 acres of shoreline off the coast of Texas for the development of wind turbines and has been a supplier of wind power to Nigeria, according to Schellstede.
Regarding how much the wind farm could lower electric rates in the territory by diversifying the fuel source matrix for WAPA, Schellstede said, “We are looking for an avoided cost from WAPA to know and to negotiate that number, which will be lower.”
Schellstede said that the company could begin constructing the wind farm “by the latter part of this year or the first quarter of 2014,”
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