The minister stated that those debts are related to Petrocaribe and the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC). Liburd stated, “Believe it or not, Mr. Speaker, debt in the region of some US$48 million is owed by the Government (to Petrocaribe), and we are addressing that. SKELEC, which is a company wholly owned by the Government, established in 2011, in the short period has accumulated some US$18 million of debt, and this is the situation we inherited.”
Without disclosing details, Liburd said the government has made arrangements to deal with those debts. In the long run, however, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure will be exploring renewable energy, particularly geothermal, which can provide “base-load” energy for the required supply.
He said that pursuing geothermal energy for St. Kitts will be done in a manner that will not impede the progress of Nevis’ ongoing geothermal project.
The minister also alerted the country of the state of water supplies on St. Kitts, and referred specifically to a bush fire that has affected the pumps of wells in the Basseterre Valley area. About 2.5 million gallons of water are pumped each day from wells located in this area, and which supplies Bird Rock, Frigate Bay, Half Moon Bay and some parts of Ponds Pasture.
He explained that water shortages being experienced because of low rainfall was compounded last Sunday by bush fires in the Basseterre Valley that damaged pumps at the wells. He indicated, however, that remedial actions are being taken. “The ground water supplies are slowly returning to normal, and remedial work is being done as I speak by the transmission and distribution crew from SKELEC,” Liburd informed the parliament.
Consumers in the affected areas experienced low pressure and some supply interruption during the peak demand periods, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Liburd warned that rationing might still be a necessity for the Water Services Department during the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to ensure adequate supply during peak demand periods.
“I encourage all consumers to conserve water by using such for essential use,” Minister Liburd urged.