St. John’s Antigua- An intervention by high-level government officials convinced the Antigua Power Company (APC) to reverse a shutdown of its engines yesterday, which had left much of the country without power for several hours.
OBSERVER Media understands APC began a complete shutdown of its generators before 11:00 am yesterday, in protest of several millions owed to the establishment by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).
The privately owned-company produces about 34.5 megawatts and around 61 per cent of the nation’s regular power supply.
Sources said APUA, which still owes around $35 million to APC, had – not for the first time – failed to uphold a court ordered payment schedule to service the massive debt.
Power was restored to the island by early afternoon, after an agreement was reached for some funds to be paid to APC immediately, and a commitment that more would follow.
APC Manager Callid Hassad, yesterday afternoon, confirmed a solution had been reached and the engines had been restarted, but refused further comment.
APUA Chairman Clarvis Joseph declined to speak on the issue, deferring comment to General Manager Esworth Martin, who also withheld remarks. Minister of Public Works Trevor Walker could not be reached.
Reports indicate that there were a number of explosions on the country’s power grid, while electricity was being restored yesterday, but the cause is unclear.
Had APC pulled the plug entirely, the country would only have had 20 megawatts of power supply from the Wadadli Power Plant. The state runs on 51 megawatts.
APUA, which produces less than 40 per cent of the nation’s regular power use, cannot meet the country’s demand on its own.
It is the second time this year that APC has resorted to such action – after shutting down their generators two months ago.
In October, following a similar shutdown by APC, a solution was reached when APUA paid $2 million of the then $37 million debt it owed.
At the time APUA also pledged to resume scheduled payments of $1.2 million per week to APC, as outlined in a consent order in the High Court, a year ago.
The millions owed to APC cover the cost of electrical supply to the state going as far back as 2004.
APC’s attorney Dane Hamilton, in October, said APUA’s failure to meet its financial obligations to APC was pushing the company towards bankruptcy. At the time, the two parties were engaged in a bitter public battle with APUA suggesting APC was the beneficiary of a very lucrative deal with the government to sell power.
Several residents at that time expressed displeasure that the majority of the country’s electrical supply remains in the hands of a privately owned company.