SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- After weeks of power
shortages that have caused blackouts lasting up to eight hours a day, the
largest power generating company in the Dominican Republic warned the
government it could shut down its plant.
Officials with the Houston-based Smith and Enron said Thursday they would
act if the government does not pay its $29 million debt in nine days.
The state electricity superintendent, Marcus Cochon, said the government
would be able to pay only a little more than a third of the $102 million that it
owes to Smith and Enron and another seven companies.
"At this time, the government has only been able to identify $40 million,
that's definite," Cochon said. "That's about 3 percent of our annual national
budget. They have to understand that we can't pay more than that in six
But Smith and Enron's executive director, Kevin Manning, said he wrote
government officials earlier this week advising them that the company could
shut down the plant for nonpayment.
"I hope next week to be back into negotiations with the government to find
solution to this problem without the need to suspend service in the plant,"
Manning said. "There's no way we want to take the plant off-line."
Government officials said they are doing the best they can to come up with
the money. The government paid $13 million this week and plans to pay
another $3 million next Wednesday.
Those that can afford it in Dominican Republic, including large hotels
companies operating in a duty-free zone, have built their own power plants
and never use the national grid, or have generators running during power
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.