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History of Electricity on St. Kitts

During the colonial period of the1920’s when the plantocracy system was still operating in St. Kitts, the main source of power used by the landed gentry and rich merchants on the island was derived from portable generators. Development of a generated electrical power supply was not a priority, as can be seen from an article written in the then newspaper of the day, THE UNION MESSENGER, which tells the story of the Colonial Government wanting to build a generating plant so that the Administrator can stop using kerosene lamps and be upgraded to electrical lighting. This proposed expenditure was met with fierce resistance from opposition members of parliament who looked upon it as a waste of funds and according special treatment to the Administrator.

However, by the latter half of the 1920’s, the people had become more receptive to change. As a result, the Colonial Government was able to build the first power station. On the evening of Saturday 21st April, 1928, the Governor, Sir Eustace Fiennes inaugurated the service. This power plant was located at Central Street in the midst of what was even then a residential area. The former Electricity Department’s Administration building now sits on the site.

With a total generating capacity of 200kw supplied by two 100kw 400v DC Allen generators, electricity was generated and distributed sparingly around Basseterre, with the emphasis placed on supplying only the most important buildings, essential services and street lighting. It was noted that electricity was normally turned off at about 09:30pm. The black smoke emanating from the engine exhaust was a constant bother to the residents of the neighboring area which was dubbed “Smut Alley”.