EPC board demands public apology from Regulator


Board members of the Electric Power Corporation have demanded the Regulator, to issue a public apology, in relation to her letter dated 13 December addressed to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Toelupe Pou Onesemo. 

In the EPC letter dated 24 February, demanded the apology by the Regulator be issued by tomorrow 3rd of March. 

According to the EPC board, it has come to their attention the Regulator has by way of a letter dated the 15th of December written to the Minister of Communication “making various unfounded and false allegations regarding the legality of EPC’s dealings with a number of other parties including EDF, Granite Power, Solar for Samoa and Shanghai e-power. 

“The letter also specifically names the chairman of the board of directors of EPC questioning our competence, conduct and honesty and recommending to the Minister that we be replaced on the basis of your view that we need people who have regards to the Electricity Act of 2010 of the governments and the people who are passionate to ensure cost of living is affordable to the people of Samoa….” 

The board members are Pepe Christian Fruean, Chairperson; Tuautu Semau Ross Petters; Vaai Lealaiauloto Polataivao Simon Potoi; Fuimapoao Beth Onesemo-Tuilaepa and Nuulopa Pereira-Hill.

The EPC board says “this is a most extraordinary return of events given that the Regulator has not seen fit to engage or consult with the very people she accuses of misconduct.” 

The Regulator in her letter says the establishment of EDF a French Solar Power Company in the Country was done illegally by the EPC board and the previous government. 

This is outlined in a letter the Regulator sent three months ago to the Minister of Communications, which spells out the alleged illegality of the ongoing solar panel project allowed through Cabinet directives bypassing Electricity laws in the country.

According to Gisa the EDF and EPC did not comply with the Electricity Act 2010. 

“Therefore, the EDF Power Purchase Agreement cannot be approved. “Furthermore, the EDF had not applied for a Generation License as per the Act.

“The EDF operates In Samoa without the Regulator approving the appropriate tariff of the PPA and the PPA as well as issuing the generation license. 

“I recommend reviewing and replacing the Chairman and Board of EPC.

“We need people who have regard to the Electricity Act 2010 of the Government and people who are passionate to ensure the cost of living is affordable for the people of Samoa. “E le manaomia ni tagata e le amanaia le Tulafono, e soli Tulafono (which translates We don’t need people that disregard and violate the law).” 

However the EPC board pointed out they were not given “any opportunity to comment on or refute any of the Regulators false allegations before the letter was sent to the Minister. 

“Had you done so we could have been able to respond and correct the many factual errors contained in the letter. 

“This is a failure by the regulator to afford the accused of any rights of reply or follow the basic principles of natural Justice and procedural fairness has now been compounded further as the letter has found its way into the mainstream media and has been the subject of poorly informed online debate the results has been that the chairman and board members have been subject to online abuse that they are not in a position to be able to answer. 

“The public humiliation has also extended to our families who have not only had to witness the abuse but that but have had their own reputations called into question such an outcome would or should have been foreseen by both yourself and the person responsible for making the letter public. 

“This has caused both personal and professional harm to us with our individual and collective reputations having been grossly and unfairly maligned by what can reasonably be inferred to a personal and deliberate effort on your part to remove the board and have it replaced with people that are more amendable to the views and wishes of the Regulator,” says the EPC board. 

Furthermore this is particularly hurtful as the Chairman and the board of EPC have always diligently adhered to the laws and processes that they are required to follow and they have strived to deliver the best outcomes for the people of Samoa both now and for the future. 

The EPC also pointed out the respect accorded to the Regulator and her office, however the personal attack on the Chairman and board of EPC is most unbecoming of a person of her position and goes well beyond her remit as the Regulator in these circumstances, they  demand a full public retraction of the letter and an unreserved public apology to the Chairman and members of the EPC board. 

“The chairman and members of the APC board are required to review and approve the contents of any public retraction and apology prior to its publication should you then wish to engage with us constructively and in good faith over any substantiated concerns the regulator may have or any matter within the ambits of the regulator’s functions and powers under the electricity act 2010.

“We would be happy to meet with you to discuss them we look forward to your prompt response and agreement to the public retraction and apology that we are seeking to be published no later than Friday 3rd of March 2023 in the Samoa Observer, in the meantime we must reserve our rights to take whatever further action we may deem to be necessary and appropriate to protect our personal and professional’s reputations.”