DOMLEC customers brace for a dark Christmas
Ma Netty, as she is known in the Roseau area, who has been adorning her home with Christmas lights for the past two decades, revealed to The Sun her intention to forgo the tradition this year due to the continuous power outages in the evenings.
With the holiday season drawing near, she and many other Dominicans are expressing growing concerns that the persistent load shedding may cast a shadow over the festive atmosphere, leaving them to reconsider their usual Christmas traditions.
"Just last week, my son asked me if he should come and start putting up the lights, but I just had to tell him to forget about it because most nights I'm in darkness till about after nine, and when I have my lights up that is typically the time I would turn them off," she sadly expressed.
The 76-year-old's sentiment is echoed by other disgruntled Dominicans who say, "The load shedding is making it difficult for us to enjoy the Christmas spirit. It's frustrating to deal with constant power outages, especially during this time when we want everything to be merry and bright."
Another customer expressed frustration, saying, "It's disappointing that DOMLEC seems unable to address this issue effectively. Christmas is supposed to be a time of celebration and joy, but the persistent load shedding is putting a damper on our spirits."
For the first time in several months, Delbert Orgarro says that he felt relieved to have experienced consistent electricity upon returning home in the evenings during the Independence season. However, he and many others are currently perplexed by the resurgence of load shedding from the Dominica Electricity Service Limited (DOMLEC) since the culmination of the celebrations.
"It's funny how we had power to light up a whole festival and give electricity to the diaspora and visitors, but now we can't keep up. We got a break during the season, but as the visitors are gone, it is back to misery for us," he said.
DOMLEC and the Independence celebrations
A few days after the independence celebrations, Dave Stamp, the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of DOMLEC, reassured the public that there was no immediate threat of load shedding resuming, particularly with the departure of diaspora members and visitors after the festivities.
Providing an overview of the company's current status, he disclosed that the relief customers experienced during the country's 43rd Independence celebration was the outcome of a collaborative effort involving DOMLEC, its partners, and the reintegration of certain equipment into the grid.
"It was not a coincidence," he declared. "It was the result of dedication and hard work and us coming together as a company and also as a country because we got a lot of assistance from some large customers who assisted us by coming off the grid so that their capacity will be freed up for others."
"Also, the fact that we brought a number of capacities that were down back in service helped. So certainly, with the diasporans gone, we will not return to load shedding. We can do away with that discussion. It's certainly not our intention. It is not in our interest financially nor in our interest from a PR and reputation point of view, to return to load shedding," Stamp added.
He further stated that the reserve margin, indicating excess capacity, is positive at 13%, with expectations of a significant increase by the end of November or early December.
At the time, he reported that their available capacity, slightly below 19 megawatts, had seen improvement, and recent rainfall had boosted lake levels. While acknowledging the positive developments, Stamp emphasized the need for further improvement, aiming for a reserve margin of 20% and above.
He expressed optimism, anticipating substantial measures by the end of the month into the holiday season as they are expected to receive three additional megawatts of rented capacity, contributing to increased overall capacity.
Stamp also emphasized the ongoing maintenance of three megawatts of rented capacity and underscored the support of a technical engineer and consultant actively working to restore normal operations. These efforts, he said, are aimed at ensuring that DOMLEC is well-positioned to guarantee a smooth Christmas season as experienced during the Independence festivities.
However, these declarations were made before the damage occurred in sections of the pipeline supplying the Trafalgar hydropower station. This damage, caused by a landslide involving heavy boulders, is stated by the company to be the reason for the current ongoing load shedding.
According to DOMLEC, this incident led to the Hydro Trafalgar Power Station being out of service, resulting in a loss of 1.75MW and a reduction in overall available capacity below the expected peak load demand.
-By Ronda Luke