EL NINO, OIL PRICES PUT PINCH ON FIJI POWER

SUVA, Fiji (fijivillage.com/PINA, Feb. 2) - The Fiji Electricity Authority, which generates and supplies power, is appealing to businesses and home users to cut their use of electricity.

Acting Chief Executive Rokoseru Nabalarua said the authority faces a critical situation as it tries to maintain power levels and avoid increasing its charges.

The suspected impact of the El Nino weather pattern has cut rainfall in the country's west, with the Monosavu hydropower lake now 19 meters below maximum levels. As a result, the utility has had to run its diesel generators more because of the loss of power from the hydro scheme, which serves the main island, Viti Levu.

Meanwhile, fuel costs are rising because of crises such as the fear of war in the Middle East, and the utility faces a massive repair bill of FJD$3.2 million in the country's north because of the devastation from Cyclone Ami last month.

Nabalarua said with the significant increase in fuel prices they will be paying an additional FJD$250,000 for diesel in the coming month.

But this will get even higher if the situation at the Monosavu hydro lake does not improve, he said.

February 3, 2003

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