E.P.C. information blackout on power outage

The Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) is declining to provide an explanation for a power outage that affected all areas of Upolu on Monday. 

Power outages began early on Monday evening. 

But the state-owned utility issued a statement on its Facebook page which states that power has been restored to all affected areas on Monday evening.

But efforts by the Samoa Observer to seek a comment from the Corporation and its General Manager via emails and phone calls were not returned.  

The E.P.C. apologised for the inconvenience caused and again acknowledged the consumers for their patience but did not state what caused the power outage.

One concerned E.P.C. consumer, Charles Mansfield, from Alafua told this newspaper that the local electricity supplier should inform members of the public about what is happening especially if it concerns power outages which has an effect on its customers.

When asked about his opinion on the supply of electricity at the moment, he said that it is “appalling and it’s going to get worse.”

Mr. Mansfield also called for an improvement in the services provided by E.P.C.

"They should be telling people what’s going on because E.P.C. is a public enterprise," he said.

He also stressed that in the future the Corporation should inform people about what’s going on and what might have caused the problem.

“With people at work and houses empty they don’t turn their refrigerators off during the day so they probably would have been a huge amount of damage,” he said. 

Monday’s outage comes after a troubled start to 2020 for the E.P.C. in which the Corporation C.E.O., Tologata Tile Tuimaleali’ifano, blamed “an act of God” for a power outage. 

Power outages affected Samoa particularly in January but also February, with outages occurring up to four times during some days. 

A lightning strike that knocked out two of the four generators at the multi-million-tala Fiaga Diesel Power Plant, which provides up to 65 per cent of the nation’s electricity, was blamed for the ongoing issues. 

The Government declared a “state of emergency” which was later lifted.

But the Minister for the E.P.C., Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, conceded that declaring the infrastructure back in working order was premature. 

The Minister went on to confirm that the damage to the Fiaga diesel plant was continuing to drive electricity cuts across the country. 

“So long as there is lightning, we will be faced with the outages,” said Papali’i in February. 

In May it was revealed that the lightning strike that devastated the Fiaga Power Plant at the beginning of the year, came at a cost of more than $370,000. 

The Fiaga plant was constructed as part of a US$100 million grant from the Asian Development Bank intended to extend the scope of Samoa's power supply. It was commissioned by the E.P.C. in 2013. 

In April it was revealed that a Japanese consultant was employed by the utility  in order to oversee the plant’s maintenance at a cost of $175,000.

Tologata left the Corporation late last month after more than three decades’ service to the Corporation including three three-year terms in the top job. 

He officially left the E.P.C. on October 23 ahead of plans to run in the 2021 election for the constituency of Falelatai and Samatau seat under the banner of the Human Rights Protection Party (H.R.P.P).

(He will be up against the Associate Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Taefu Lemi Taefu.)

The Minister of Works Transport and Infrastructure, Papalii Niko Lee Hang, confirmed his replacement would be Faumui Tauiliili Toimoana, the former Urban Operation Manager for Samoa Water Authority.

The Corporation also thanked Samoa for their understanding as their technical teams work to bring power back on to residents and businesses.

Other E.P.C. consumers expressed their concerns over the impacts of the power outage on their equipment such as computers via its Facebook page.  


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