ANGLEC SURMOUNTING “HERCULEAN TASK” OF RESTORATION Working Towards six Months or Less for Completion

anguillian
By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:51 Updated

 

 

 

Just about seven weeks after Hurricane Irma, the Anguilla Electricity Company (ANGLEC) is continuing to make much progress in its Herculean task of restoring the power supply across the island, while still importing supplies towards that end.

The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. David Gumbs, known for his calm disposition and confidence, is not dissuaded by this Herculean task. For one thing, he would like to accomplish this task in less than six months if he had the requisite manpower and equipment.
“My task is indeed Herculean. This was an enormous storm and, as a result of this, the amount of work is massive,” he told The Anguillian. “The good news is that we have a really committed team out there working hard during the day, and late into the night, to help us accomplish this task so they make my job easy. I think the general public see that and when they do, they have more appreciation for the company. Likewise, it makes my job easier to get the communication out and get the job done.”

Questioned about the numbers of workmen, Mr. Gumbs replied: “I think the number of personnel, in terms of linesmen on the ground, exceeds the linesmen we have in Anguilla for our building and maintenance strategy. We have workers from Dominica, St. Vincent, Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados Light & Power, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Bahamas Light & Power, Montserrat, and Guyana Power & Light. So we have had quite an extensive number of teams who have been here already or who are still here right now.”

“What percentage of coverage would you say ANGLEC is at [as of Friday, October 20]?” Mr, Gumbs was asked.

“As of now, we are close to 25% and on our way to 30,” he replied. “The great news is that we will be very close to 40% in a day or so. We have been making a lot of effort and there are large areas to be energised. By next Friday [October 27] when The Anguillian newspaper is out, we will be very close to 50%.
“That will take in deep sections of Island Harbour on the eastern side and then we would be as far as probably at the Sea Feather’s area on the south-eastern side. We will be working at North Side in the northwest – so right now we are on the cusp of North Side, pushing into the North Side village proper, and then we are going to be in Upper South Hill, heading down to the Bethel Methodist Church.”

Mr. Gumbs was asked about the cost of the work.

“Overall, we know that this will be in the tens of millions of dollars in the cost to ANGLEC,” he responded. “There are different costs in estimating the cost to ANGLEC. Obviously, lost revenues are significant aspects of this. Our lost revenues are roughly about six million dollars per month. From the onset of this hurricane incident, we were zero on a daily basis and we are incrementally going up. As I mentioned, we are at 25% [coverage] and will be building that everyday as we go through this process.”

“How much of this cost will be passed on to customers,” Mr. Gumbs was asked.

“We haven’t really gotten into this level of discussion at this point,” he laughed. “We have self-insurance and if you look at our annual report we had roughly about eight million dollars in self-insurance prior to the storm, so we have that pocket of money; then we have assets that are actually insured; our solar farm is insured; our generation plant, our buildings and our equipment are all insured. So we will have some level of recovery from insurance. After that, some of the money will have to come out of pocket, of course, but I think there shouldn’t be any great concerns about significant increases in bills. That is something that certainly we have to manage cautiously and prudently. Should that ever become a discussion, we would make sure to have a larger discussion about it, but we have no plans of doing so at this time.”

“Are there any funding agencies that may likely assist ANGLEC in recouping some of its costs”? The Anguillian asked the head of the island’s power company.

“We’ve been exploring mostly contribution in kind, in labour, equipment and that kind of stuff. But I think we have to start looking at other means of financing this initiative because ANGLEC plays a vital role in the economy of Anguilla. The faster we can do this, the better it will be for everyone in Anguilla – better for the economy and the better it will be for the businesses.

“We were just talking recently about the strategy in terms of getting to the west where the major hotels are. That’s an area which has a significant amount of damage so there will be a considerable effort to get down there, but I think there are different strategies we can apply. What we need are human resources. We need about 30 linesmen. If we can get 30 linesmen to support this process, along with bucket truck equipment and digger Derrick equipment to support them, I think we can knock off a month of this restoration initiative. Our initial completion date still holds. We are actually sticking to the plans in terms of the progress we are making. Things could change and things could improve.
“We had initially a six-month target to wrap this up, and it is our hope that we can do this much sooner – and we are executing different strategies to make that happen. But, until we get more resources, there is only so much our current resources can do. It is a very specific skill set that’s needed in terms of linesmen, so the guys who are up there in the trucks and on the poles have the experience in building the lines and making things work. So those are the key resources we need. There are other resources which can come along to support them, but those can be local resources.”

Mr. Gumbs continued: “We have been working very closely with the Chief Minister and the Governor, and they are very well in tuned with our needs. They have been very supportive in trying to get us additional resources to carry out this effort. It is all hands on deck.”

“What can you tell the people of Anguilla to give them hope that ANGLEC is on top of the situation to eventually meet their electricity needs as quickly as possible?” he was asked.

“That’s easy,” he answered. “ANGLEC is made up of people, and the people who drive this company, and make it work, are a team of really dedicated workers, out in the fields – in the office supporting the field work; and everybody is dedicated to making this restoration process happen. Thank you to all the people who are contributing to this effort.

Mr.Gumbs was accompanied at The Anguillian newspaper’s interview by ANGLEC’s very capable Public Relations Officer, Mrs Jemila Morson Hodge. She commented:

“We are hearing a lot of things from the public. One thing that really rings through is that our guys are working hard. I think it is one thing to tell folk this is our strategy – and this is our plan – but to actually see the guys on the road, and putting in the work, is what is really ringing out with the public. The one Caribbean sentiment is really felt especially on Facebook where people just love to see the community coming out from such a tragedy.

“It is something we celebrate, and we are so honoured and thankful to have our Caribbean guest workers, but our local ANGLEC guys are local heroes on the road. It is very heart-warming and that’s one of the things that we get especially on Facebook on a daily basis. We do get a lot of questions, understandably at a time like this, when everybody wants to know when will my area have back power – and so the more resources and support that we get, it is easier to give a more reliable timeline, and that’s something we are working towards.”

anguillian
By anguillian October 30, 2017 10:51 Updated

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