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The GRENLEC secret

The Bruce Bain Power Plant which is located in Queen’s Park is responsible for the supply of electricity to most parts of the island

A senior staffer at the Grenada Electricity Company (GRENLEC) has said that the true status of the company is not known to many but at times the utility company cannot supply all the needs of consumers and have to resort to a sort of secret arrangement with big companies to turn on their own generating sets to supply their electricity needs.

Speaking to THE NEW TODAY, the employee said that Grenlec is not totally independent when it comes to providing the electricity needs of the country and from time to time will have to resort to this approach in order to meet shortfalls.

“It has been so for years. Even a lot of the workers (at Grenlec) don’t know that,” he said, except for top managers and persons who work in the section that deals with the operation of the generating sets.

According to the senior staffer, there is an arrangement with large companies on the island who have their own generators that are being used as standby to put it on and that has “saved us numerous times from load-shedding.”

He identified some of the companies involved in the deal as the Grenada Breweries Limited, Grenada Sugar Factory, Grenada Airports Authority, the former Rex resort hotel at Point Salines and the rum factory in Conference, St Andrew.

“It has a list and we do call all these people and ask them to go on standby and that is what saves us from load-shedding.

“You see – like you have a generator, we tell you to cut off Grenlec power and just use your generator for just you alone so with that now we don’t have to supply you so that we could supply other places that haven’t got generators.”

The source at Grenlec pointed out that through this measure the whole island is able to benefit as electricity not used by these larger and bigger companies are then used to supply Grenadian consumers islandwide.

The senior staffer indicated that the total capacity of Grenlec at the moment is about 50 Megawatts but a lot of the engines on the plant “cannot go to the maximum” due to problems of aging so in effect the company can get about 47 to 48 megawatts of electricity from them.

“If any major engine goes down – anyone of them big sets – they Grenlec) will be in problems,” he remarked.

The employee stressed that given the recent heat spell experienced in the country, the engines at the Grenlec plant cannot be run at the maximum for fear of shutting down.

“As a matter of fact, the newest one (engine) that we got the last time – the Number 4 – if that engine goes down they have to load shed,” he said.

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The employee questioned the attitude of the former New National Party (NNP) administration of Keith Mitchell to engage in activities that allowed the former major shareholder, the U.S-based company WRB Enterprises to trigger the “buy back” clause in the Share Purchase Agreement and leave the island.

He stated that WRB had a plan to extend the power plant but as soon as the NNP regime started with its hostility towards the company, it shelved its investment plan and did not put out any more money into the utility.

“Knowing that you are going and sell back, you wouldn’t put in any big set of investment so that was the problem. That is what caused the power plant to run down,” he quipped.

According to the employee, when the NNP replaced Congress in office in 2013, it did nothing during the next nine years in terms of uplifting the company.

He denied that the NNP regime had purchased a new generating set for Grenlec after the pull-out of WRB.

He said: “What happened is that one of the big generators got damaged – it burned and they (Grenlec) did a replacement. Grenlec bought a new generator to replace the damaged one. The generator got damaged and it would have cost too much to repair so they just purchased a next one and put it down in the same spot.”

Former Prime Minister Keith Mitchell and his deputy Gregory Bowen were often engaged in a war of words with Grenlec due to their opposition to the decision taken by the 1990-95 Congress government of late Prime Minister Sir Nicholas Brathwaite to privatise the loss-making public utility.

Mitchell often hinted that he would like to see the company back under the control of the State.

On recent attacks by another senior staffer on Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Clive Hosten, he said that he is not a bad person but many of his colleagues do not see him as having the strength to run the company.

“People don’t see him as a manager. For me personally, I won’t say he is not a people’s person because his interaction with me and others I find is cool – along that line it’s cool…”

However, he was quick to add that many staffers feel that Hosten is considered to be very weak as a manager and was allowing some other senior staffers “to flex more power than he.”

He described Hosten as “well-qualified” as an engineer but the general feeling among many staffers is that he did not have the kind of management qualities needed to run Grenlec.

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