Tired, frustrated and loud.
These were just some of the emotions felt by people in St. Thomas as they crowded around Barbel Plaza on Wednesday morning.
“We have constant electrical outages, we have fluctuations right so we want to say that the people can’t bear the burden," Anna Francis from St. Thomas said Wednesday.
Anna Francis is one of the many protestors we talked to who want WAPA to take more accountability and provide more reliable power before they try to raise the territories’ rates.
“WAPA is at the pinnacle of the pain that has been dished out on the people of the Virgin Islands and we have to say enough,"Clarence Payne with the Virgin Islands Alliance for Consumer Justice said.
The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority is petitioning the Public Services Commission for a base rate increase of approximately three cents.
The company said the increase would close the budget gap from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and cover operational expenses.
For protestors like Margaret Price, she said its too much to ask after personally dealing with outage after outage and it affecting her appliances.
“We want the senate to hold WAPA responsible for destroying any of our appliances. We want the whole board gone," Price said.
“What the people out here in Barbel Plaza St. Thomas are saying is that they want to see accountability from the WAPA Board they’re also calling on the local legislature to hold those members of the board accountable," reporter Kellie Meyer said.
WAPA recently lost over $2 million in what they call a phishing scam.
This added to its’ growing debt.
It’s leaving people here in a pinch because WAPA is the only electrical company in the territory.
Man shouting, "WAPA is not our favorite utility.”
Some brought their families with them to show how the difficult it is to pay their WAPA bills as is.
“We work so hard and the children dem needs so much when it comes to their personal clothing and you know its’ so hard on be paying my bills to pay this high cost of electricity while I can’t support my children dem.”
It’s not just families who are struggling.
Elizabeth Service owns Bella Blu Restaurant and Pie Whole Pizza in French Town and says she might have to close her businesses.
“My highest bill from WAPA used to be $3600 and now we’re up to over $5,000 a month and I can’t afford it.’
Service said the high electric bill cuts into her food budget, salaries for her 30 employees, and in off season like it is now, she says it’s detrimental to her business.
But are some here offering alternative solutions.
“My proposal is to build a 10-megawatt wind farm out of Bovoni Point and to provide power for a long term period," Joel Hart with Advanced Power said.
Options like Hart are proposing to use wind instead of electric could help keep bills lower.
He said it isn’t the only answer but it’s a start.
For these protestors anything is better than what they are dealing with now.
We reached out to WAPA for a comment but they did not get back to us by time of broadcast.