E.P.C. to help most vulnerable
The Electric Power Corporation (E.P.C.) will assist vulnerable families who have been selected to receive $1 million in financial support to improve their residences.
More than 150 families will be selected for the broader Government project.
The E.P.C. is still working out the nature of its contribution, but its General Manager, Tologata Tile Tuimaleali'ifano, said the Corporation will only provide assistance to families without electricity.
The $1million funding assistance was allocated as part of the Government’s second stimulus package in response to the effects of the COVID-19-led economic downturn.
The Adventist Development Relief Agency (A.D.R.A.) Samoa is overseeing the project operations with T.N. Construction conducting construction works.
However, Tologata told the Samoa Observer that the funds they will provide for assistance will not come from the Government.
“We are also working with A.D.R.A. to see how we can assist those vulnerable families especially with COVID-19,” he said.
He said that they have not finalised yet whether to use leftover funds from one of their renewable energy projects sponsored by Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) or the E.P.C. capital budget allocated for its Community Service Obligation.
“We are yet to finalise that arrangement; the renewable fund was half a million U.S. [dollars] but it depends, we are still doing negotiations with A.D.B,” Tologata said.
“If that doesn’t come through then E.P.C. will have to use the same capital budget allocated for that; we can only assist with what we can provide.
“We have a Community Service Obligation.”
The E.P.C. is setting up its own capital budget to fund the extension of existing power lines to the poorest houses in Samoa.
“So it’s a huge contribution from E.P.C. to those low income families. We spend more than $2 million a year on that assistance to low-income families of the community,” Tologata said.
“It started from the last financial year 2019-2020 and we are also continuing [the assistance] for 2020-2021.”
The E.P.C. has supported the overall national plan, the Strategy for the Development of Samoa (S.D.S.), through the Community Service Obligation project, previously known as the Rural Electrification Project.
Since it began in 1989, the Corporation has constructed transmission lines in rural areas; the installation, repair and maintenance of streetlights around the country; and upgrading of transmission lines for construction of new hotel projects.
All applications for new electricity connections requiring low or high voltage extensions or new streetlights, will go through a special C.S.O. Committee for approval.
Normally, this process takes up to two to three months. Under this initiative, domestic household applications will be fully financed by the Government (75 per cent) and the E.P.C. (25 per cent).
Domestic consumers will only need to pay the standard fee for connections. In the case of business applications, E.P.C. will provide finance to the value of 50 per cent with businesses paying the remainder.