LUCELEC is constantly working on improving system reliability. Reliability, simply put, is fewer and shorter power outages for customers. This is a central plank of the Company’s mandate. It is an objective that has been pursued relentlessly over the years, employing several strategies, and always with an aim of keeping the cost of electricity to customers as low as possible. The latest strategy in this effort is distribution automation.
A few years ago LUCELEC embarked on an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) programme after extensive research into the various technologies and vendors that existed at the time, and after testing some of the systems. Very early on, LUCELEC recognized the importance of customer load data as well as having two way communications with meters in the field, over and beyond just being able to obtain meter readings. This prompted the consideration of an AMI system over an automatic meter reading (AMR) system which was more common at the time but which had more limited capabilities.
Each customer’s electricity bill is determined by three elements - the quantity of electricity used, the tariff for the category of customer, and the Fuel Surcharge Cost Adjustment Factor or fuel surcharge as it is commonly called.
Electricity poles are a common feature of the St. Lucian landscape. They are an important part of LUCELEC’s distribution infrastructure that gets electricity from the substations to our neighbourhoods. In some areas, these tall wooden poles need to be supported with sturdy metal cables, called stays, to help keep them upright and to maintain the tension on the electricity lines. But it has not always been easy or possible to find sufficient space or suitable soil conditions to anchor the stays, and in some areas the stays become an additional obstruction where they are anchored.
Street lighting is an area of great concern to the public, especially as it has implications for safety and security. Today’s column will seek to provide some clarity on the separation of responsibilities for street lighting and the respective roles of the St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) and the Ministry of Communications, Works, Transport & Public Utilities.