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Baptiste: No customers, no VINLEC

Baptiste: No customers, no VINLEC

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The St Vincent Electricity Services (VINLEC) will wrap its week of activities on Sunday, November 27, as it celebrates 50 years since becoming a Corporation with a thanksgiving service.{{more}}

Highlights of the week included community outreach, employee and customer appreciation, and what has been referred to as one of the “proud moments” in the company’s recent history, the official opening of the modern power plant at Lowman’s Bay yesterday, Thursday, November 24.

“Fifty years is not a short time.Over the last 50 years, VINLEC has achieved a great deal,” Thornley Myers, VINLEC’s Chief Executive Officer, said at the launch of the week of activities Monday.

“Over the years we have grown and we have expanded,” he continued.

The company became a Corporation in 1961, under the British colonial government, and was under the control of the Colonial Development Corporation, an arm of the colonial government.

In 1963, the company was changed to the Commonwealth Development Corporation and, according to Myers, the acronym ‘CDC’ has stuck with most people.

Back in 1961, less than 40 per cent of the population had electricity, but today between 98 and 99 per cent of the country is supplied with electricity.

“So we have made significant advances in the last 50 years,” the company’s CEO said.

The electrification process continued throughout the country when electricity was taken to Bequia in 1968 and Union Island in 1974.

In 1971, government bought 49 per cent of the company, which according to Myers was an indication of the importance of electricity to national development.

But there would be some troubling times during the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

“After 49 per cent of the company was acquired, the analysis tells us that CDC did not have the same interest in the company,” Myers explained.

In 1974, the fuel surcharge was implemented, and this, too, had its challenges, particularly as oil prices changed.

By 1983, only about 50 per cent of the population had electricity.

“Clearly, as a developing nation that had just achieved independence, it was difficult to conceive that figure,” Myers said, adding that it was at that point that the administration took a decision that it needed to have a greater stake in the company, particularly as energy was important to the nation with regard to development.

By 1985, government had fully acquired the company.

“And from then, until now, it has become our company. The advances we have made in those 26 years that have transpired is not like any other state owned utility in the neighbouring islands,” Myers contended.

He honoured the employees of the past and present for the hard work they put in to maintain the professional standard over the years.

This according to Myers was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas when crews worked round the clock to restore electricity.

Rene Baptiste, Chairman of the Board of Directors of VINLEC, joined in with congratulatory remarks to the employees of the company.

She, however, made it clear that the achievements of the past were gone and now it was time for staff to look to the new challenges with “renewed vigor, commitment and professionalism.”

“While taking home our pay, we must remember our customers – no customers, no VINLEC,” Baptiste said.

“After 50 years it is our duty to continue to excel, to continue to listen to our customers and build relationships,” she said.

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