Answers demanded over St Kitts power cuts

BASSETERRE, St Kitts, November 28, 2008 – The Management of the Electricity Department at St Kitts’ power company has two weeks to produce a comprehensive report on the ongoing electricity challenges facing the country.

Minister of Public Works, Utilities, Posts and Transport, Dr Earl Asim Martin ordered the report after his senior team of electrical engineers met with Cabinet on Monday, for the second time in as many weeks, to report first-hand on the situation.

“The Chief Electrical Engineer, Mr John Channer, emphasised that there were ongoing human challenges at the power station. He added, however, that the system protection equipment whose installation is soon to be completed should drastically buffer the system from human action or inaction,” said a Cabinet statement. “The Chief Electrical Engineer assured the Cabinet that the outages were not as a result of inadequate generation capacity.”

The report requested by Minister Martin is expected to include technical and non-technical challenges related to electricity transmission and generation, as well as recommendations for the swift resolution of all of the major issues.

Last week, two employees of the St Kitts Electricity Services were sent on leave after unauthorised system settings led to power outages across the island.

But St Kitts’ main opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM) has insisted that the government, and not the workers, is to blame for the repeated power cuts which residents have been experiencing.

PAM leader Lindsay Grant this week charged that promises by the Denzil Douglas administration to fix the problems have not been fulfilled and it was time for citizens “to be given the opportunity to once again chart their own destiny and put us back in the light”. He therefore called for a general election to be called now, rather than wait for October 2009 when it is constitutional due.