Economy, Globe, United Kingdom

Are there dark times ahead for the Dominican Republic?

The Dominican electricity sector, considered by many as unfinished business, goes back to being state owned after authorities predicted a dark October due to the outage of various generator units.

 

Edilberto F. Méndez

 

The disruptive and frequent outages in this country aren’t news; may areas and towns across the country experience them on a daily basis.

Therefore, when the authorities reported that the situation will get worse, the population and the production and services sectors became incredibly anxious. September, in itself, has been a complicated month with the outage of the central AES Andres (the electricity generating facility) situated in the Santa Domingo province.

It has a generation capacity of 300 megawatts and is connected to seven other plants with less capacity that also stopped working for one reason or another.

According to specialists, the negative repercussions suffered in September forced distributors to buy energy for more than 30 million dollars. This has not only impacted the cost levels of such energy bought under contract, it will also have an effect on energy bought out of contract, which could cost around 16 million dollars. However, the most worrying aspect for many is what lies ahead…

No electricity  

The Dominican Corporation of State Electrical Companies (CDEEE) predicts huge outages for the tenth month of the year, once the Barahona Carbon generator and the San Pedron Macorís Electricity Company go through scheduled maintenance. When they join the AES Andrés outage ‘there will be a serious energy shortage due to a deficit of 500 to 600 megawatts’, the Corporation’s spokespeople pointed out.

By way of example, last 11 September a decline in generating was recorded, so strong that the State-owned Distribution Companies didn’t need to limit the supply of electricity and everything was triggered by the outage of the Los Mina Energy Park’s Total CC system, an example of the weaknesses of the system.

The Dominican Republic normally generates some two thousand 500 megawatts and according to data from the Dominican Association of the Electric Industry (ADIE), the installed capacity of generating reached three thousand 687.

It could therefore potentially meet the demand, but everything depends on the applications made by the distribution companies in accordance with written contracts.

The nation’s budget to buy energy this year was 425 million dollars but the rise in oil prices and the electrical deficit will force them to look for 290 million more and, in turn, the CDEEE’s bill will rise to 715 million.

Recently the president of the political organisation País Posible, Milton Morrison, said that despite multiple promises over the last 30 years made by governments to resolve the electricity problem, the country is still submerged in an electricity crisis which directly affects millions of Dominicans.

The also expert in these areas considered that situations like the current ones show the need for a system with a reserve generating park to meet the needs of the population in emergencies.

Morrision recommended to all industries concerned, public or private, to put their interests to one side and think about the people, to overcome once and for all the electricity crisis.

The bleak outlook will be felt by the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MEM) which, from 25 September, will take back control over the country’s electricity policy.

The electric pact

It is not possible to refer to the crisis in the Dominican electricity sector without addressing the Electric Pact, not as a solution to the problem but as an important way to bring together forces for common good.

The widely-known Electric Pact has been awaiting the agreement of participants for four years, and today is in limbo after the Economic and Social Council’s refusal to sign up to it at the end of last year.

However, the Finance, Planning and Development minister, Isidoro Santana, stated that the Pact is in the hands of the president, Danilo Medina, who will determine whether it is signed with or without the support of the political parties.

The letter of the document contains incredibly important aspects such as the possibility of State-owned Distribution Companies sub-contracting to other companies to handle their coverage areas, one of the most serious problems in the sector.

Similarly, the diversification of the energy matrix, the improvements in distribution networks and the reduction of losses.

Without a doubt, specifying actions in this strategic sector is essential if you want to have light and not dark months like those which lie ahead in the Dominican Republic. (PL)

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: corrine.harries@ch-translations.com)Photos: Pixabay

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