The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) a $13 million loan for the installation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and other projects, as part of a total of more than $45 million awarded for rural smart grid developments.

WAPA aims to install AMI for its approximately 55,000 electric customers territory-wide – which encompasses the islands of Saint Croix, Saint Thomas and Saint John – before the end of 2014. The project is an integral part of addressing the utility’s challenges in improving its overall operational efficiency, reducing energy theft, improving the billing process and reducing line loss with the use of new meters and accurate meter reads. It will also implement the necessary infrastructure for future applications such as prepay services, home automation and energy saving programs.

Tantalus and Itron have been contracted to provide the AMI system, and installation and project management services will be provided by Apex CoVantage. Harris Utilities has also been contracted for its MeterSense meter data management (MDM) system.

The second project for which WAPA received support is for a distribution automation program.

Other rural utilities awarded funding by USDA in this latest round for smart grid projects are:

  • BARC Electric Cooperative (VA) – $169,500
  • Bedford Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc. (PA) – $153,600
  • Capital Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ND) – $2,086,800
  • Chippewa Valley Electric Cooperative (WI) – $147,188
  • Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation (TN, KY) – $826,500
  • Dairyland Power Cooperative (WI, IA, IL, MI, MN) – $800,000
  • EnergyUnited Electric Membership Corporation (NC) – $561,000
  • Fairfield Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SC) – $406,665
  • Golden Valley Electric Association, Inc. (AK) – $3,449,404
  • Great Lakes Energy Cooperative (MI) – $1,521,017
  • Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc. (NM) – $2,202,800
  • Lake Region Electric Association (SD) – $1,977,826
  • Marshall County Rural Electric Membership Corporation (IN) – $347,155
  • Maquoketa Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (IA) – $54,553
  • Minnesota Valley Cooperative Light and Power Association (MN) – $660,000
  • Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (AZ) – $5,730,145
  • Nodak Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ND) – $2,422,000
  • Rusk County Electric Cooperative, Inc. (TX) – $4,241,516
  • Traverse Electric Cooperative, Inc. (MN, SD, ND) – $1,458,000
  • Verendrye Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ND) – $1,164,000.