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The Elephant in the Room: The Power Outages

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I was hoping that I didn’t have to write this story, but I guess it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room – the ongoing power outages.

I have to admit, I am a social media lurker. I’ve been reading your questions and comments on the Facebook pages, on TripAdvisor, and I understand your concern about the current state of the islands. You are spending a ton of money to visit us, and you want to make sure there is power. I 100% understand that. Please know that this is not normal, and I do not expect this to occur forever.

I received an email from a guest who was curious if they should cancel their October vacation. I said absolutely not. I received another email from a guest asking is their upcoming visit would be a burden to the island seeing what we have been going through with WAPA, our power company. Again, I said absolutely not.

St. John is a community that relies on tourism. Without tourism, we do not have much of an economy. We experienced this twice over the past seven years. Once with the hurricanes, and again with Covid. We need you all to continue to visit us.

I know you have heard that businesses have been forced to close due to power issues. Yes, it’s true that Wharfside’s generator was broken for a bit, which was forcing Beach Bar, Rum Hut, Parrot Club and La Tapa to close, among other spots. Well I am happy to say that the generator was fixed last week, and everything is running as normal, despite the rolling outages. Check out the Beach Bar’s webcam here to watch the action live. 

The majority of the restaurants inn Cruz Bay have generators and remain open. Skinny Legs over in Coral Bay has one too, so the burgers continue to be served over there regardless of the status of WAPA. Did someone say fresh-squeezed margaritas? Yes, please!

The beaches are open and beautiful no matter what the status of power is. I saw that question asked on Facebook too.

What is currently happening is rolling outages. We are having bouts in about two-hour increments where power is turned off. This is happening due to old equipment and the inability to generate the amount of power that the islands currently need. Yes, it is frustrating, but, again, this is not the norm. This will not last forever. We’ve had less this week than last week, and hopefully they will stop altogether soon.

I have also read a lot from repeat and future guests about securing a rental that has backup power. I completely understand that, although I feel for the property owners who do not have backup power. It’s not their fault that the outages are happening.

There are two types of backup power sources – generators and solar. The Westin, Grande Bay and Gallows Point, for example, all have backup generators that automatically kick on when the power goes out. You wouldn’t even know it happened if it happened to occur when you were staying at any one of those properties. Lots of our vacation rentals have generators too, as well as solar panels with battery backups.

Speaking of solar, I just signed the contract to get solar at my house -woohoo! I am able to get numerous solar panels and a Tesla battery backup without a single dollar paid upfront… winning! I opted to lease the system, rather than buy, and I could not be happier! (However if I chose to buy, I still wouldn’t have had to put any money down for that either. Again, winning!)

If you own a vacation rental on St. John and you would like to know more about how I was able to get solar without killing my bank account, please feel free to email me at jenn@explorestj.com or call/text me at 203-376-3786, and I will tell you all about it. It was so easy that I want everyone to do it!

This, too, shall pass. Please continue to book those vacations. Please do not let these outages deter you from visiting us. I appreciate each and every one of you. -Jenn xoxo

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3 Comments

  1. Marcy Robl

    We were there last week when the outages started. Outages started Tuesday after our Saturday afternoon arrival and continued until our following Saturday departure. At first, outages were rolling and lasted 3-4 hours each, not following the schedule WAPA provided. By end of week it was 2 hours on, 2 hours off. Again, not always on the schedule provided.

    We love St. John. We got married on St. John. We have been many times over the years. I realize how important tourism is to the island and all of its residents. I felt so badly for all the restaurants that closed and the people losing those hours they needed to work. But this trip did leave us thinking.

    St. John has one transmission line working after the only other one was damaged in Irma/Maria (Irmaria) in 2017. So as a visitor, yes the beaches remain great, but when you don’t have power in your rental villa, you also don’t have water because the pumps that supply the water, don’t work without power. We hate when the power is out at our own house, but we deal. Living without water is way worse. Living without both isn’t tenable. There was power every two hours by the end of our week on St. John, but our vacation became planning to get up when the power came on at 4:30 to cook breakfast before it went out again. Or leaving the beautiful beach early so we could take a shower that day. It didn’t feel so much like a vacation anymore.

    St. John is not self sufficient power-wise. And in an emergency meeting last week, when asked about the two 4 megawatt generators that were to be installed to make St. John more able to withstand these issues, long in the works, a WAPA representative said it would take 19 months to have them up and running. This is an issue that will continue for some time.

    I know this comment will likely be removed. But visitors should be able to consider the realities they will have to deal with and make the decision whether they want to do that or not. That said, we plan to travel to St. John again. We will make sure it is at a property with a generator, though.

  2. Joe Quinn

    Thank you for this website. My biggest regret is that we didn’t stumble on it sooner. We are staying in St. Thomas and visited St. John’s yesterday. We are experiencing similar issues here with the power, although it doesn’t seem to be nearly as bad. The power has been going off everyday for roughly two hours. The problem is we don’t seem to know when it’s going to happen.

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