It was quite easy for Tania Tomyn, CEO of RetroLock Corporation, to fall in love with the Caribbean as a child. Her parents had a second home on the island of St. Croix, which turned into their full-time residence for the past decade. Tania Tomyn’s passion for the people of St. Croix has led her to visit the island for outreach initiatives and business frequently.
An ongoing power crisis has put a strain on St. Croix and the US Virgin Islands. Prices constantly surge and fluctuate over .50 KWh, which is four times the national average. This, in turn, has changed the social-economic climate on the islands, as people struggle to afford what most consider a necessity. Tania Tomyn worked as a partner and investor in The Renewable Energy Project for over four years but was unable to fix the power crisis due to complicated circumstances.
“Residents have to make choices that you would not normally have to make just to pay the power bills,” said Tania Tomyn.
Local farmers in the community largely supported The Renewable Energy Project. One of the most common sources of baseload power in Europe, the Caribbean, and the United States originates from crops which are a feedstock in the Anaerobic Digestion Process (AD). Tania Tomyn’s company was awarded a Power Purchase Agreement with Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) for $450 Million in 2013. It was approved by the Public Service Commission and fully entitled with EPA, Local DNR, Department of the Interior, and FAA. The US Department of Agriculture was also providing a debt financing program for rural communities.
In 2014, Puerto Rico’s credit rating fell, and the US Virgin Islands followed suit. Although the project was fully developed, investors drew back, and the US government (USDA Rural Utilities) debt providers withdrew their participation. Unfortunately, Tania Tomyn and her team had no choice but to abandon the project in 2015. If the Renewable Energy Project had gone into effect, 9MW of baseload power would have been provided to the Island of St. Croix, equivalent to 20% of their current total grid. In addition, the project would have had the lowest carbon footprint compared to any other power used in the USVI. It would have been lower than solar, natural gas, or hydro.
Even the best projects can be severely affected by the financial stability of a region, something Tania Tomyn has always understood as an entrepreneur. Although she was unable to impact the community through The Renewable Energy project, she serves the area in other ways. Tania Tomyn supports victims of abuse at the St. Croix Women’s Coalition (WCSC), where people can receive counseling, jobs, skill training, and traditional temporary housing.
“This organization is incredible,” said Tania Tomyn. “It positively affects so many people’s lives.”
WCSC helps not only women, men, and children who fall victim to abuse, but also those who are hit with a monumental natural disaster. After Hurricane Irma, WCSC delivered supplies to the elderly and the Boys and Girls Club. The organization also provided temporary housing to those in need of shelter.
Tania Tomyn has previously served on the board of the St. Croix Women’s Coalition. Her husband, Aaron Smith of Orange County California, also supports WCSC. He actively participates in their events, including the annual run which helps raise awareness and donations. During her recent trip, Tania Tomyn met with the Executive Director of WCSC, Clema Lewis, to make a donation. They also discussed the many ways RetroLock is bringing awareness to their cause. Clema Lewis has devoted her life to this organization and cause. www.wcstx.org
Tania Tomyn is the CEO of an Interior Finish business operating in Orange, California. RetroLock Corporation specializes in interior finish solutions such as doors, frames, hardware, millwork, specialty metals, and finish carpentry and installation. Tania Tomyn’s team is fully aware of the issues in St. Croix and supports WCSC in reaching their goals.