14 Apr 2004

Alternative energy expands to outer islands in the Marshalls

8:31 am on 14 April 2004

An alternate energy company in the Marshall Islands hopes to hook more Marshallese up to cyberspace and offer limited refrigeration in remote areas.

The Marshalls Energy Company plans to expand into the outer islands after taking over the management of the Government-run solar electricity system on Namdrik Atoll.

The company is the first power company in the north Pacific region to deliver both diesel and solar-powered electricity.

It's general manager, Billy Roberts, says the company aims to double solar power capacity on the atoll, allowing use of more electronic devices.

He says the current system only provides enough energy to households for lighting and a small radio.

"It's a nice system but basically it's just a couple of lights and we want the ability especially with education to run small laptops or video education and you could get small refrigerators so they could keep medicines in dispensaries."

The solar power programme on Namdrik was funded by France in the mid-1990's but the Government failed to maintain it properly.

France agreed to inject more funds into it last year and contracted MEC to manage it.