Dominica grapples with power crisis as aging plants struggle to meet island’s demand

In a growing concern for residents and officials alike, Dominica is facing a mounting energy crisis.

The island nation’s aging power plants, once the backbone of its electricity supply, are now grappling to keep pace with the surging demand for energy.

This was disclosed at the press conference of Dominica Electricity Services Ltd (DOMLEC) on Thursday, with one of its top officials calling the situation to be “insufficient generation capacity.”

“We have been seeing in 2023 increased consumption, what you call increased load, so our peak so far for the year is 17.62 megawatts,” DOMLEC Manager Bertilia McKenzie explained.

She went on to highlight the contrast with 2021 when the peak was 16.38 megawatts, representing a significant increase of over 1 megawatt in customer consumption in 2023 compared to two years prior. In 2022, the peak was also high at 16.35 megawatts.

McKenzie emphasized that not only are Dominicans consuming more power in 2023, but DOMLEC is also grappling with the challenge of aging machinery.

“This increased demand coincides with an aging generation fleet, particularly an aging diesel generation fleet, where 10 megawatts of generation capacity have surpassed their intended lifespan and are overdue for retirement,” she pointed out.

To promptly tackle the emergency, DOMLEC is leasing two megawatts of temporary generation from an outside source.

McKenzie also stressed the need of additional generation, citing Dominica’s first geothermal plant that will be commissioned “in a few years.”

The construction of the plant, which is expected to generate 10,000 kilowatts, is on-going with transmission networks currently being set up as the next phase of the project.

Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme plays a crucial role in financing the geothermal project in addition to the financial support provided by the World Bank.

This CBI initiative has been instrumental in the reconstruction and improvement of Dominica following the destructive impact of Typhoon Erika and Hurricane Maria.

With the MMC Development Ltd., a private development firm with a longstanding partnership with the government, the construction of numerous climate-resilient residential buildings and essential infrastructure were made possible with the CBI programme.

Moreover, MMC Development Ltd. has been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the development of Dominica’s ambitious international airport.

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