Our Readers' Opinions
February 11, 2014
Practical solutions in addressing current situation following December 2013 flash floods

Fri Jan 17, 2013

Almost all Vincentians were greeted with the harsh reality that electricity bills will again be on the rise as a result of the damage to Vinlec’s hydro generating plants at Fitzhughes and Cumberland. This notice is not good news, since we are still in recovery mode, following last December’s freaky rainstorm and resultant flash floods, the effects of which will affect all Vinlec customers, unless intervention by external agencies like the CDB and World Bank is forthcoming …and they should help.{{more}}

Both CDB and World Bank have special grant funds which can be used to keep fragile economies like ours buoyant while we struggle to rebuild our country.

This assistance can be in the form of fuel subsidies, which will reduce the burden for each domestic consumer. This situation should also cause the search for geothermal energy to be placed on the front burner and we should fast-track the repair and installation of new hydro turbines, thereby reducing our reliance on high cost diesel generated electricity.

The move to provide those persons directly affected by the flash floods with household appliances is highly commendable, but with the economic crunch on, I wonder how many of these persons will be able to pay the high energy bills. It would have been more appropriate to provide these affected persons with solar powered refrigerators, so that if ever there was a power outage, these persons would not be adversely affected. It would also be prudent to retrofit all health clinics with solar powered fridges, which cost about the same as those using mains only. These units also come with a changeover switch, allowing the unit to be used from mains. With this system, all that is required is five hours of sunlight from a 100 watt solar panel, and a good 150 – 200 Ah battery should run the fridge for 24 hours. Our organisation (Rainbow League) has links with a manufacturer/supplier for such devices. This is the direction in which this nation must proceed if we seriously want to break the stranglehold Vinlec maintains on those who do not have alternative sources of energy to rely on. Our organisation also stands ready for the challenge to retrofit all clinics with solar powered fridges – necessary devices to store certain medicines at the correct temperature to prevent deterioration of these expensive drugs and vaccines.

This is where the disaster mitigation grants from the CDB, World Bank and fraternal countries can be directed to help ease the economic crisis this country is currently facing. Farmers have lost livestock and agricultural produce, hindering their ability to adequately provide for their families, therefore this country needs an injection of outside grant assistance to ease the crunch for at least one year. It is my earnest and sincere plea to the regional and international community to help us in these crucial times.

Donald De Riggs.