The St. Kitts Electricity Company is now operational and has taken over the full operations of the St. Kitts Electricity Department.

The switch was officially made July 31, and as of Monday, the new company has assumed not only the operations but also the assets, liabilities and human resources of the government-run SKED.

According to a senior staff member who made the transition to the new entity, the move was “relatively seamless”. The individual told The Observer that there was no mass exodus of SKED staff as had been rumored and mainly older staff members had taken their severance packages and left.

“The majority of lower level staff stayed on and they have made the transition. By the older ones leaving it now gives the younger ones a chance to move up, because some of those persons were in their posts for years upon years,” the person said.

The Observer also understands that ahead of the transition, several persons from the Caribbean Utilities Management Company arrived and were interacting with staff of the SKED, including upper management.

Utilities Minister Dr. Earl Asim Martin informed The Observer that the Management Company is contracted to run the operations of the new electricity company for a period of three years. Over that period, local engineers and management staff will be groomed to assume management of the entity when the contract expires, he said.

Dr. Martin attempted to allay fears of another increase in electricity rates following a more than 80% hike in January. He said that the switch to a corporatized entity would not mean an automatic rate increases for consumers.

“I don’t want people to feel that automatically because a new company is coming in that the rates will increase, it doesn’t happen that way as other factors are involved and the critical factor is the price of fuel on the world market.”

The Utilities Minister also bemoaned the spate of unscheduled power outages that have plagued St. Kitts in recent times. While he could not say if the electricity supply would be more consistent under the new entity, he indicated, that “with better trained personnel the entity would be better positioned to manage supply and generation and respond to technical or man-made problems”.

The St. Kitts Electricity Company is fully owned by government and administrative operations continue from the old SKED building on the corner of Sprott and Central Streets.

(by L.K. Hewlett, copied from The St. Kitts Nevis Observer)