ANGLEC staff replacing street lights.
ANGUILLA–The Anguilla Electricity Company ANGLEC set a self-imposed deadline of Christmas 2017 to restore island-wide electricity post-Hurricane Irma and beat it by ten days, much to the population’s delight. On December 15, electricity was restored to all the island’s homes and businesses certified electrically sound to have it turned on. The remaining homes too damaged to be certified safe on December 15 have been receiving current as repairs are completed and their buildings are certified safe for connection.
ANGLEC’s Chief Executive Officer David Gumbs says that ANGLEC has now transitioned to the fine-tuning mode. Some 800 of the 2,500 streetlights have been replaced to date, and he is hopeful that the remainder will be in place by early February 2018. Additionally, there is a huge effort ongoing to upgrade the wire gauge on the western side of the island. This is where most of the hotels are located and this upgrade will significantly increase capacity for years to come. He said the immediate goal after Irma was to restore electricity, and now the focus is to increase capability.
ANGLEC staff with Manager David Gumbs on the right.
Additionally, ANGLEC is now assessing its damaged infrastructure. It is working to make long-term and hardened repairs to its buildings to include its generation plant badly damaged by Irma. Planning for the restoration of the solar farm, with the focus being on a more storm-resilient model, will also take place in 2018. He added that while underground placement of electrical wiring is optimum, the geographical rock composition of Anguilla makes this an extremely expensive endeavour driven by the cost of the equipment needed. However, there are plans to look at this initiative for the area from the Clayton Lloyd International Airport to the Princess Alexander Hospital.
Jemila Morson-Hodge, ANGLEC’s public relations officer remarked that one of the positive signs that life at ANGLEC has begun to normalise is the deployment of five ANGLEC workers plus a digger and bucket truck to the island of Dominica. They are assisting Dominica in the rebuilding of their electrical system destroyed by Hurricane Maria. She said ANGLEC was extremely grateful for the many neighbouring islands that sent technicians to Anguilla to assist with its restoration; Dominica was one of the first islands to send technicians and now ANGLEC is able to return the favour.
Another indicator of returning normalcy will be the departure of the remaining 20 Canadian contractors in early February. The full complement of 40 UK-funded contractors worked alongside technicians from many islands and Anguilla’s ANGLEC technicians to power back Anguilla.