ROSEAU – Prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said he has placed power company DOMLEC on notice since energy and electricity are too critical to Dominica’s recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria “for us not to be further than where we are today”.
DOMLEC has given the target of April 2018 to have the entire island electrified and Skerrit said at a government consultation on Monday that he and members of his cabinet met with the chairman and deputy chairman of DOMLEC and he told them based on information he has on the ground, the target will not be reached if the company doesn’t increase resources on all fronts.
“They have indicated to me that they recognize that because based on our projection, it will take them up to the third of November, based on the resources they have currently but they have assured me that they are increasing the buckets and the trucks and the linesmen,” he said.
He added, “I have placed them on notice that energy and electricity are critical to our recovery efforts for us not to be further than where we are today. And we are talking about the major shareholder being a serious international company and I do not think major international companies rely almost exclusively on the benevolence of others in a private enterprise like this . . . ”
He said he gave DOMLEC two weeks to get back to him “to indicate their seriousness or otherwise of being in Dominica”.
“I don’t think as prime minister of this country I will not sit by and allow for a protracted time frame for the reconnection of power to Dominica, that’s that too critical,” Skerrit said.
Meanwhile, generation manager at DOMLEC Dave Stamp has revealed that 8,400 of the company’s customers now have electricity following Maria.
According to Stamp, before Maria, the company had a customer base of approximately 36,000 and since the hurricane, 8,400 customers have received power.
“That represents about 23 percent of our customer base, our pre-Maria customer base,” he stated.
He noted that the company’s peak load now stands at 36 per cent and the load that is being generated is about 29 per cent.
“Based on our restoring rate that we have been monitoring, we note that we have a restoring growth rate of over 5.6 per cent per week,” Stamp said. “It is our intention to increase this significantly.”
He said based on a recent estimation of the damage to the company’s transmission and distribution (T&D) system the price tag for restoration is just under U$15-million.
Stamp said DOMLEC plans to increase the rate of restoring power to its customers.
“As we speak we are bringing in additional crews,” he stated. “The T&D restoration resource compliments about 60 linemen and other personnel and we estimate that we need an additional 60 overseas resources from CARILEC and other utilities . . . we are recruiting overseas linemen contract companies in order to fill this gap.”
He stated that currently DOMLEC has 42 additional overseas line resources.
“It is our intention over the next two weeks this compliment be brought up to about 60 and with this 120 line resources we think we can significantly increase the rate of restoration and to be able to meet some of the deadlines that we have provided,” Stamp said.
He pointed out that a lot of Caribbean countries suffered damages during last year’s hurricane season and one of the challenges DOMLEC faces is being in competition in with these countries for resources such as linesmen and equipment.
“A lot of other countries are not able to provide resources needed, so those are some of the challenges that we are hoping to overcome,” Stamp said. “It is estimated that in the next couple of weeks we should be able to overcome some of those challenges. Some of these islands, Anguilla etc, has somehow completed their restoration and are now able to assist us with a lot of the resources that we require.”