This photo shows PM Skerrit in 2015
This photo shows PM Skerrit in 2015

As Dominicans continue to grapple with the persistent issue of load shedding, causing inconvenience and frustration among its residents, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has assured that 'relief is on the way' in addressing the generation capacity shortfall at the Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC).

During a recent press briefing, Skerrit outlined his government strategy that encompasses short, medium, and long-term solutions, with significant improvements noticeable within two weeks. The issue's complete resolution is expected within just over a month.

"This is the assurance the government has been given, and this is the standard to which we shall hold DOMLEC," Skerrit affirmed. "So, as of now, we are giving ourselves under two weeks to break the back of this challenge and return adequate service to most communities on a regular basis."

The root causes of load shedding at DOMLEC are multifaceted. They include the pressing need for additional generation capacity due to the ageing generators, the adverse impact of climate conditions on the hydro system, an exceptionally scorching summer, and increased demand due to economic growth.

Highlighting a shortfall of 2.3MW, Skerrit says to address this, DOMLEC will rent a 3MW generating system from Aggreko, a US-based generator rental firm.

The commissioning of this unit on November 15, 2023, is anticipated to restore full capacity, thereby eliminating the scourge of load shedding.

However, it has its challenges. DOMLEC and the Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) have cautioned that purchasing additional generators to bridge the generation gap would inevitably increase consumer prices. In response to this concern, the Prime Minister underscored the Government's commitment to safeguarding Dominican consumers from projected price hikes. To achieve this, the Government of Dominica has procured a new 5.2MW medium-speed generator, which will be leased to DOMLEC under favourable terms. This generator is expected to remain in service for an initial period of two years, with a projected commissioning date in April 2024.

Skerrit emphasised his Government's dedication to minimising the financial burden on consumers. He explained, "The only way to not pass on increased costs to the public is to not acquire certain types of medium and long-term debt. Others would say this more technically, but I am a lay person, and so are the vast majority of persons listening to this broadcast."

He added, "The Government has found a way to help support generation and access to the supply of electricity needed to match current demand without being forced, by law, to pass such increases on to you, the consumer, whom we know cannot bear such at this time. You have suffered enough with these blackouts in this period of unstable and unreliable service."

Noting that they are "pressing ahead", Skerrit assured the nation that as the majority shareholder of DOMLEC, the Government of Dominica is fully cognizant of its responsibility to take a lead role in solving this "troublesome issue."

He further committed that the Government will continue to work closely with the management of DOMLEC to source appropriate solutions to secure the comfort and well-being of all Dominicans.

"I ask today for your understanding and continued patience. This is a challenge and an inconvenience for us all. But it is a situation that is well within our capacity to navigate and overcome," the head of Government vowed.