2 Jun 2008

Outer island town in the Marshalls has power availability cut to 10 hours a day

3:17 pm on 2 June 2008

Jaluit, in the Marshall Islands, has experienced a cut back in living comfort with the power company imposing electricity rationing in response to skyrocketing fuel costs.

Until now, the former German and Japanese capital in the Marshalls, had enjoyed 24 hour supplies, an unusual service for a remote outer atoll.

Power is now on for just 10 hours a day.

The utility company's operations at Jaluit have historically been subsidized by its larger Majuro operation, since the level of business on the small island cannot sustain a diesel-fired plant.

With the increase in the fuel price, Jaluit's monthly fuel bill is running at about US$60,000, with collections from local residents, businesses and the high school amounting to less than half this amount.

The power company has relied on its fuel supplier's tanks because it has little storage capacity of its own.

But the company says the utility can deliver its own fuel to Jaluit much less expensively, and is responding to the problem by expanding its own storage tank capacity.

It hopes that 24-hour power can be restored once the tanks are installed.