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Bank spearheads Pacific utilities recovery talks

Eleven Chief Executive Officers of utility companies in the Pacific, including the Chief Executive Officer of Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.), Tologata Tile Tuimaleali'ifano, have explored new investment priorities to help their nations recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The discussions were held during a virtual meeting supported by the Asian Development Bank. The Vice-President of A.D.B., Ahmed Saeed, opened the meeting saying it was a key opportunity to exchange knowledge and expertise at a key juncture in the economies of their respective countries.

Mr. Saeed said that the meeting was the first of its kind, which gave utility managers a platform to share information and discuss solutions to problems caused by COVID-19, which are affecting power utilities in the Pacific.

“Post-pandemic, utilities will need new transformation plans to operate in a new normal environment and A.D.B., as ever, stands ready to support,” he said.

The lockdown measures in many Pacific countries to contain the spread of COVID-19 are causing a significant drop in power consumption and economic activities. 

Each Pacific country’s response to the pandemic depends on the quality of tariff settings, regulatory framework, and available government support. 

While plummeting oil prices may ease the cost of power generation, this will be limited due to the contractual nature of imported fuel supply.

Papua New Guinea Power Limited’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Mageo said that they have decided to use the challenge of COVID-19 as an opportunity to develop our business continuity plan.

“This enabled us to boost the resiliency of the utility and security of supply.”

While the Tonga Power Limited Chief Executive Officer, Setitaia Chen said during the meeting that future investment in climate proofed renewable energy infrastructure is more important now than ever before to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19.

“And support the resilience of Pacific utilities in providing a dependable supply of reliable energy.” 

A.D.B. is helping Pacific countries make this transition by providing finance and direct technical assistance. 

Projects financed by A.D.B. are developing solar, wind, and hydropower facilities; installing battery storage technology; and improving or extending transmission lines. 

Technical assistance provided by A.D.B., meanwhile, is helping utilities operate more efficiently through legal, policy, regulatory, and institutional reforms, as well as improving financial management and corporate governance.

 A.D.B. is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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