Venezuelan Experts Aim to Help Dominica With Electricity Problems

ROSEAU, Dominica – A team of experts from Venezuela came to Dominica on Tuesday, as consumers on the island grapple with a series of load shedding in response to limitations of the equipment at the Dominica Electricity Services Company Ltd (DOMLEC).

EIcityPrime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit told a news conference that he held talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in Cuba last week “with a view to providing whatever support we would need to address the issue in the immediate term and the medium term.

“We will support DOMLEC and we look forward to the team coming in,” Skerrit said, adding that a St. Lucian-based expert has also arrived here to assist.

In May last year, the Dominica government announced that it had acquired the majority shares in the island’s electricity company following discussions that began a year ago with the Canadian-based energy company, Emera Incorporated.

Skerrit said then that the acquisition of DOMLEC aligns with the country’s goals to build resilience in the energy sector through deliberate action to improve energy security and strengthen growth and economic prospects.

“As part of our vision for a Dynamic Dominica, we are pursuing greater efficiency in electricity generation to meet our national target of 100 percent clean, carbon-neutral energy by the year 2030.”

He told reporters that the government had also discussed with DOMLEC the procurement of new generators to address the situation, given that some of the generators are old

“Like I said we will assist DOMLEC in procuring generators because if DOMLEC were to procure the generators themselves there will be an increase in tariff, an increase in the cost to the consumers and we want to mitigate against that.”

Skerrit acknowledged that acquiring the generators would take time since they would not be readily available for sale “so it might take a couple months”.

Skerrit said that DOMLEC has also reported an increase in demand, adding “so it is not only because of the heat, but there is an increase in demand because of the growing of the economy and people utilizing more energy and with generators that are old you will have issues.

Meanwhile the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) said it has been monitoring DOMLEC’s capacity management program and that the current legislation guides how it monitors DOMLEC’s load-shedding activities to ensure compliance with established policies.

In its statement, the IRC said it has started the electricity rate review process with DOMLEC and “any future purchase of diesel generators will negatively impact electricity rates for all customers.

“The IRC is supporting the national efforts to find the most effective solution to the current crisis, with a strong preference for a sustainable resolution, one that would not put unnecessary burden on the ratepayers.

“The IRC is committed to ensuring that consumers in Dominica receive the highest quality of electricity at fair and affordable rates while maintaining the financial viability of DOMLEC. The IRC is extremely concerned about the issues and challenges being faced by the utility and is mobilized to support the collective effort to resolve the issue, sooner rather than later.”