Candid conversations, an analysis

Overview – read the press release about the Candid Conversations here….

The press release describes an event titled “Candid Conversations” organized by NV GEBE, aimed at engaging the St. Maarten community regarding ongoing power supply issues. It highlights the discussions held, the company’s current challenges, and proposed short-, mid-, and long-term solutions.

Despite the company’s efforts to engage the community, there were significant shortcomings that need to be addressed.

Lack of Transparency and Limited Engagement

Reports from attendees indicate that the event did not fully reflect the critical issues at hand. Many participants felt that their pressing questions were inadequately addressed. Key points of concern include:

  1. Unanswered critical questions: Attendees raised several important questions that went unanswered. This left many feeling that their concerns were not taken seriously.
  2. Restrictions on media coverage: The event prohibited filming or recording, raising questions about transparency. This restriction hindered the ability of media representatives and the public to accurately capture and review the proceedings.
  3. Limited time for questions: The allocated time for the Q&A session was insufficient. Participants were given very limited opportunities to voice their concerns and ask follow-up questions.
  4. Evasive responses from management: Many attendees reported that the management’s responses were vague and avoided direct answers. This approach failed to provide the clarity and transparency that the community was seeking.

Community Feedback

The feedback from the community has been largely critical. Many residents, business owners, and media representatives felt that the event did not achieve its goal of fostering open and transparent communication. The limited engagement and lack of clear answers have only added to the frustration and dissatisfaction among the stakeholders.

Key Issues and Questions in regard to the matters discussed in the press release…

  1. Event Attendance and Effectiveness
    • Question: Given the unprecedented nature of the event and its importance, why was the turnout lower than expected?
    • Observation: The attendance was described as balanced but did not meet expectations. This raises questions about the effectiveness of the communication strategy and community engagement prior to the event.
  2. Load Shedding and Capacity Issues
    • Question: What has been done historically to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure to prevent such critical failures?
    • Observation: The description points to a significant gap between demand and supply due to equipment failures. This indicates a potential lack of proactive maintenance and capacity planning over the years, which needs to be scrutinized.
  3. Management and Maintenance Practices
    • Question: Why were there no contingencies in place for critical equipment failures like those experienced with DG #19 and DG #9?
    • Observation: The bearing failure and subsequent fire causing additional capacity loss suggest possible neglect in routine checks and preventative maintenance.
  4. Financial and Resource Planning
    • Question: How will NV GEBE finance the immediate rental of portable generating units and the long-term infrastructure upgrades?
    • Observation: While the press release mentions avoiding passing costs to consumers, it lacks a clear explanation of the financial strategy to cover these significant expenditures.
  5. Communication and Transparency
    • Question: How will NV GEBE improve its communication to ensure better transparency and reliability of information regarding load shedding schedules?
    • Observation: The complexity of load management is understandable, but the inability to provide a reliable schedule points to a need for better grid management and communication strategies.
  6. Sustainability and Future Planning
    • Question: Why is solar energy considered a low priority given global trends towards renewable energy sources?
    • Observation: The response to inquiries about solar power suggests a potentially short-sighted approach to sustainable energy solutions, which could be more cost-effective and reliable in the long term.
  7. Historical Management Failures
    • Question: What specific management failures over the past years have led to the current state of affairs, and what steps are being taken to address these failures?
    • Observation: The press release does not address the historical context and managerial decisions that contributed to the current crisis, which is crucial for accountability and future prevention.
  8. Community Engagement and Feedback
    • Question: How will NV GEBE ensure that feedback from these public sessions is integrated into actionable plans?
    • Observation: While the event allowed for community interaction, there is a lack of clarity on how the feedback will be systematically incorporated into the company’s strategy.
  9. Long-Term Vision and Execution
    • Question: What are the detailed steps and timelines for the long-term plan beyond the 18-24 months EPC phase for the new power station?
    • Observation: The long-term plan is ambitious but lacks detailed milestones and accountability measures, which are essential for tracking progress and ensuring successful implementation.

The press release outlines a comprehensive plan to address the power issues in St. Maarten but fails to address several critical areas. The historical management failures, lack of clear financial strategies, and insufficient emphasis on renewable energy solutions are major concerns. Additionally, the effectiveness of community engagement and the transparency of ongoing communications need significant improvements. By addressing these questions and observations, NV GEBE can work towards building a more resilient and reliable power supply system for the future.