St. Croix, St. Thomas Hit by Island-wide Power Outages

July 30, 2019

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

It was a rough weekend for residents in the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John with power outages hitting each of the islands, along with a 4.4 magnitude earthquake that rattled St. Thomas.

Each of the territories experienced island-wide power outages due to loss of generation capacity at local power plants.  The Estate Richmond Power Plant on St. Croix failed was down for about an hour Sunday night, with most customers restored by early Monday morning.  The Randolph Harley Power Plant went down early Saturday morning, causing St. Thomas and St. John to be without power for about eight hours.  In a separate outage, some 9,600 utility customers on St. Thomas were also without power Monday morning.

None of the outages was extremely long and they occurred during mostly overnight hours.  But, as WAPA, the Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority, proposes rate hikes for its customers saying it will help ensure service reliability, residents question the cause of the outages.


Customers in the U.S. Virgin Islands already pay 43 cents per kWh, 31% more than utility customers in Hawaii and four times what residents in Washington pay (the U.S. states with the highest and lowest electricity costs, respectively).

Outages are understandably frustrating, but they also pose a risk to electronic equipment.  Consumers are able to use surge protectors to help reduce the chance of damage from voltage fluctuations, which typically accompany outages.  Businesses can take similar measures by installing power protection systems, which are designed to ensure business technology is isolated from spikes in power by regulating line voltage before it is distributed to systems.

These systems can be designed to fit any sized business, but are a necessary investment to protect equipment from suffering electrical damage, which would result in significantly higher repair or replacement costs – not to mention the resulting downtime.

Edited by Erik Linask