LOW RAINFALL TRIMS FIJI HYDRO POWER, RAISES

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Increased diesel usage adds $2 million to power bill

By Elenoa Baselala SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 27, 2010) - The Fiji Electricity Authority estimates a loss of FJ$4 million [US$1.9 million] as a result of its increased reliance on diesel for power generation.

The sole electricity supplier said the power on Viti Levu was generated from hydro (55 percent) and diesel (45 percent).

In the past, the ratio was usually 70 percent hydro and 30 percent diesel.

FEA chief executive Hasmukh Patel said the total fuel bill for April alone was FJ$12 million [US$5.8 million] while in May it is expected to be between FJ$12.5 million and FJ$13 million.

The revenue for the month of April was FJ$16.5 million while in May it is expected to be around FJ$15.5 million and FJ$16.5 million.

Mr. Patel said his fuel expenses were at least 70 to 75 percent of the company's revenue.

He added that electricity usage for the month of January was high which could have been because of the humidity the country was experiencing.

Except for March, Patel said below average rainfalls were recorded for the other months.

The Monasavu Dam is supposedly 20 metres above critical level. At its current level, the dam can only supply electricity for two and a half months.

On full capacity, the diesel generators would only be able to feed 65 percent of the demand in Viti Levu. To rectify this problem, if it happens, the FEA may have to implement rolling blackouts.

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