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Dominican Republic: Energy Crisis Continues

With less than three months on the job as the Vice-President for the Dominican Corporation of State Electric Companies [es] (CDEEE for its initials in Spanish), businessman Celso Marranzini has seen the need to look for help outside of the country to resolve the serious energy problem, which has recently reached critical levels.

A delegation headed by Marranzini traveled to South Korea to seek technical assistance to help solve the energy problem [es], in which half of the electrical plants have been out of service under the argument that they are under maintenance. However, this has resulted in an energy deficit reaching 600 Megawatts, in which Dominicans have been under 9-10 hours of power outages per day.

As this is an ongoing problem that seems to be worsening to the current critical levels, the population has been showing its discontent, after holding onto the hope that Marranzini could solve the problem. These power outages are causing frustration and criticism of Marranzini's leadership. Twitter users, Elvis Medina and Ana Peguero provide some thoughts on the situation:

@anapeguero: Arroyo Hondo tenía circuito 24 horas hasta que llegó Marranzini, ahora nos dan apagones por un tubo… y la factura más cara to los días!!!

(The neighborhood) Arroyo Hondo had energy 24 hours a day until Marranzini arrived, now we have blackouts, and the most expensive bills.

@elvismedina: Espero q para estas navidades, el sr. Marranzini, se convierta en Santa Claus y nos regale un poquito mas de ENERGIA…Oremos por eso..

Hopefully for this Christmas, Mr. Marranzini becomes Santa Claus and gives us a little more ENERGY… Let's pray for that.

In addition, street protests against the power outages have taken place in places like the province of Barahona and the National District. The most recent incident took place in the city of Santiago, where one person died and many others were arrested [es].

As a previous critic of the CDEEE before being named to head the entity, many hoped that Marranzini could solve this problem that has been going on for more than 40 years, and which has become an obstacle in the country's development.

While Marranzini has concentrated on improving the CDEEE's finances and the reduction of payroll, he has not been able to reduce the blackouts. The outages have reached the point that they have worsened since he took office in August 2009, maintaining the electrical system in such a delicate state, that some have even called for the return of Radhames Segura, his predecessor.

Cartoon by Harold Priego which depicts the call for Segura to return to his previous post, which is preferable to the current power outage situation. Cartoon republished with permission.

Cartoon by Harold Priego which depicts the call for Segura to return to his previous post, which is preferable to the current power outage situation. Cartoon republished with permission.

The solution goes beyond changing one public official for another. There are some that attribute the situation to personal interests and politics. For others, like Dr. José Antonio Vanderhorst, consultant on electricity, the core issue is the structure of the national electrical system. He writes on the group blog Grupo Millenium Hispaniola [es]:

… por sí misma la despolitización es insuficiente. Es absolutamente necesario cambiar el sistema (eléctrico) que sigue muy influenciado por el paradigma de la CDE y de la capitalización que están orientadas a la oferta, cuando los problemas más complejos están en los aspectos sociales, organizacionales y culturales, que se corresponden al consumo que está en el lado de demanda.

Es urgente dar un giro para desarrollar e integrar los recursos de la demanda. La urgencia está en que la decisión de cambio de ley necesita ser introducido en el acuerdo con el FMI. De lo contrario, seguiremos sin resolver la crisis sistémica del sector eléctrico.

… depoliticization itself is insufficient. It is absolutely necessary to change the (electrical) system which continues to be greatly influenced by the CDE(EE) paradigm and the capitalization that is oriented to the supply, when the more complex problems are in the social, organizational, and cultural aspects, which corresponds to the consumption and demand.

It is important to make a shift towards the development and integration of the resources in demand. The urgency is in the decision to change the law needs to be introduced in the agreement with the FMI (International Monetary Fund). On the other hand, we still are left without solving the systemic crisis in the electrical sector.

Translation by Eduardo Ávila

3 comments

  • Maybe the government will invest some money to electricity problem from the $1.7B loan which grants IMF to Dominican Republic…

  • […] Global Voices link opened up a resource channel that would have far more prepared me for the energy crisis (electrical outages for more than twelve hours a day), public protests of building a cement factory […]

  • … Despolitization itself is insufficient. It is absolutely necessary to change the system (electric sector) that is heavily influenced by the paradigm of the CDE and the capitalization that are oriented to the supply, when the most complex problems are social, organizational and cultural, which correspond to consumption that is on the demand side.

    It is urgent to shift to develop and integrate demand resources. The urgency is that the decision to change the law needs to be introduced in agreement with the IMF. Otherwise, we will not resolve the systemic crisis in the electricity sector.

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