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Minister ponders the EPC Boards’ future

Staff Reporters

APIA SAMOA – 16 FEBRUARY 2023: The fate of the Electric Power Corporations’ Board seems to be in limbo as more details come to light in the actions taken to obtain the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the Electric Power Corporation (EPC) and French Solar Company EDF/Granite.

The Minister of the Electric Power Corporation, Olo Afoa Fiti Vaai told Talamua that he has enough evidence based on the Regulators Report to make a decision.

Related Story: Power Purchase Agreement between EPC and French Company deemed illegal

However, he is waiting on the report by a Special Committee appointed to investigate the issue and he expects the report by next week at the latest.

The Minister said, like the decision on Samoa Airways, he needs the full information as there could be more on the deal between EPC and the overseas company concerned and what cost the country may bear out of the deal.

The Minister said he received a report from the Office of the Regulator “spelling out the illegality of the ongoing project of establishing EDF in Samoa, which was enabled through Cabinet directives despite the Regulator’s advice to go through the proper processes.”

The issue with the EDF goes back to 2020 in which the former Cabinet approved FK (20) 44 based on the Tender’s Board advice, from the EPC to go ahead with negotiating the EDF contract working closely with the Ministry of Finance, Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Regulator.

However, the negotiation was only between the EDF and EPC without the Regulator despite the provisions of the Electricity Act 2010 that the Regulator approves entering into Power Purchase Agreements with independent power producers.

During the EDF contract negotiations, the Regulator was not consulted and since the Regulator had not issued the PPA and required licenses, the company may not be able to operate in Samoa.

Making the same mistakes
Minister Olo said he refuses to make the same mistake as the previous Government who made the mistake of acquiring one of the current Solar companies in Samoa, selling a whopping .99 sene per kW/h to the EPC.

“These are the sorts of things we are trying to get rid of, to ensure our people are not burdened by these stupid decisions made by previous Government,” he said.

“They accepted an IPP to sell units at such a high price of 99 sene WST while EPC sells it to customers at a much lower cost of 53 sene WST, causing financial difficulties for the Corporation.

“And why is that? Because of the previous Government’s stupid mistake,” said the Minister.