As the energy that powers the nation’s success, St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) has one main goal as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. It is to keep the pandemic outside the power plant and ensure the lights stay on. But it has not been business as usual. Far from it. Especially in the past 16 months when achieving that ideal called for focus on its staff, customers and contributing to the national effort.
LUCELEC Managing Director Trevor Louisy says protecting the staff was a necessary first step. First, all workspaces were transformed so staff could work safely, efficiently and effectively within social distancing guidelines. Those who could work from home, did. The ones who had to come in were transported to their respective work locations as safely as possible and to avoid public transportation. And access to critical control rooms was heavily restricted.
“In addition to the tremendous effort and cost that went into transforming our work processes to work safely and keeping staff on the frontlines motivated and in good mental, physical and emotional health, we provided constant reminders to staff about observing the COVID-19 protocols, not only at work but very importantly off work, to minimize risk of infection and transmission.”
But LUCELEC doesn’t exist in a vacuum. And so, in July last year the Company reached out to Chief Medical Officer Dr Sharon Belmar-George to see how the Company could help the country in its COVID-19 response.
“At the time, SLASPA was completing work at the airports to facilitate the screening facilities for arriving passengers and the CMO asked if we could cover the cost of extending the electrical infrastructure required. And we did. She also asked about funding some equipment for the Respiratory Hospital initially. But that request eventually became funding to purchase equipment and supplies to improve PCR testing capacity at the Ezra Long Laboratory at the OKEU hospital.”
In May, LUCELEC held a symbolic handover for that donation, valued at approximately one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars ($114,000). Speaking at the ceremony held at the Ezra Long Laboratory, the CMO called it “an invaluable tool in supporting and managing COVID-19”. She also commended the Company, not just for the donation, but for its efforts in encouraging its staff to practice the protocols and to get vaccinated.
The donation to the OKEU is part of the almost three quarters of a million dollars ($750,000) the company has contributed to the COVID-19 national response to date. In the early stages of the pandemic, LUCELEC provided support towards some of the costs of operations for the Government’s Quarantine Centres and made monetary contributions to the National Fund-Raising Telethon, to a national feeding programme coordinated through the Chamber of Commerce and the St. Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association (SLHTA), and to purchase digital devices, through the OECS Commission, to facilitate online schooling for students in need.
Helping customers was also part of the company’s COVID-19 response. And so, the company took the decision to discontinue disconnections for arrears since February last year – working with customers to manage their accounts. That decision remained in place for 15 months.