Medina warns that he will deal with electricity issue

SANTO DOMINGO. President Danilo Medina warned yesterday that in spite of "running up against very strong interest groups," and to have a lot of opposition for what he wants to do, he will not stay "with his arms crossed" in the face of the electricity problem.

He said that each year the state is throwing US$1.5 billion "down the toilet" so that the companies (the generators) can report earnings and maintain the security of their investments, while the citizens receive low quality service.

"We have reached the conclusion, that the only way to resolve the electricity problem is for the state to intervene, because for a long time in the Dominican Republic, unless it is done by request, not one cent is spent on generation," he said.

Medina said that he understands that in the conditions in which the electricity sector of this country functions, no bank is going to lend large amounts of money due to the uncertainty about knowing whether "this man that took the loan money can pay it back", regarding the electricity market in the Dominican Republic.

"The state has to intervene, although it can be in a first phase, and then get out. And I have decided to build new generation plants to lower the costs and economize those US$1.5 billion which can serve the Dominican people by improving education and health."

This month the Dominican Corporation of State-owned Electricity Enterprises (CDEEE) launched an international tender for the selection of the contractor that will carry out the engineering, procurement and construction work of the two coal-fired thermo-electric units with a capacity of 300 megawatts each.

Integrated plan

For his part, the vice-president of the Dominican Corporation of State-owned Electricity Enterprises (CDEEE), Ruben Bichara, stated yesterday that this entity has an integrated plan for the development of the electricity sector in which President Danilo Medina is the principal mentor who is trying to put an end to the blackouts.

He said that they must improve the nation's generation capacity, since the fuel matrix for generation is 41% fuel oil, 13% hydraulic, 15% coal, and 31% natural gas.

He added that half of the installed generation capacity in based on fuel oil and more than 40% of the energy generated uses fuel oil number 6 or number 2.

The official said that the purchases of energy by the distribution sector are over US$170 million a month, of which 89% is purchased by contracts and 11% on the spot market. He cited the fact that the average price of energy purchased from CESPM has been the highest at 40 cents per kilowatt/hour, which is much higher than the price on the spot market.

As he talked about the difficulties of the generation sector at the present time, he said that this year they have registered 1,200 shutdowns in the system due to breakdowns in the generation system of 34 generation units that are available, which increases the scarcity of the energy supply. All this represents 32.779 hours off line per year.

The most frequent causes of the shutting down of generators are due to untimely breakdowns of the generators and because of low fuel levels, Bichara told an audience of newspaper editors.

The industrial park

President Medina, talking in the West Santo Domingo Industrial District (Disdo), said that he will not permit anyone to violate the legal mechanisms in order to favor someone in particular.

During his visit to Disdo, the President guaranteed the people that acquire space there, that the government will begin within a few days the work on the infrastructure of the industrial park, which he said will be finished "in record time."

The Chief of State said that if the people that come into the park in different areas, commit to carry out the investments needed, he (Danilo) will fulfill with satisfaction all of the investment needs in the creation of buildings, as well as with a security system and support for the development of their businesses.

"A large investment needs to be made in order to finish the park, but this is only justified if those that bought the lands are willing to make the investments that are needed," he said.

+ Leídas