Dominica (2012)

Source: REEEP Policy Database (contributed by SERN for REEEP)

This policy & regulatory overview is not updated anymore since 2015. We decided to keep it online due to high demand but would like to make you aware of the fact that it might be outdated.

Energy sources

Total installed generating capacity (2009): 27.6 MW. However, if shut-downs for maintenance, hydro dry-season and plant retirement plans are taken into consideration the available power from diesel and hydro can be estimated to be around 20 MW.

  • Diesel: 20.5 MW (2008)
  • Hydro-electric: 6.4 MW (2008)

Electricity generation in 2008 was equivalent to 87 GWh, of which hydro plants produced 20.6 GWh (23%) and diesel generating plants 66.9 GWh (77%). Generation from hydro has decreased from 35 to 21 GWh between 2002 and 2008 whereas generation from diesel has increased from 43 to 67 GWh respectively. In the early 1950’s and 1960’s, hydropower met approximately 90% of electricity generation. In 1994, Dominica generated 78% of its electricity from hydropower. However, in year 2008 the relative share has dropped down to 23%. This has been changing over time, due to weather trends, increased demand and outages due to damage caused by e.g. hurricanes.

Total primary energy supply (2006): 50.4 ktoe.

The proportion of available RE capacity has decreased in Dominica over time. The latest decrease was in 2007, where three new Diesel generators totaling 4.2 MW were installed to replace older units at Fond Cole, resulting in 1.28MW net addition to the system. That same year, Hurricane Dean struck the island, causing damage to the Padu hydro plant and making it unavailable for production. Consequently, although the nameplate hydro capacity totals 7.6 MW, only 6.42 MW is available. DOMLEC had expected to restore the Padu plant by the end of 2009, but there is no indication this is yet complete.

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Dominica has no indigenous sources of coal, oil and natural gas. Its power sector is based on a mixture of imported fossil fuels and locally produced hydroelectric power.

Dominica buys oil from Venezuela under the terms of the Petrocaribe agreement, signed in June 2005. Under the agreement, many Caribbean countries purchase oil from Venezuela at market prices, paying 40% of the cost within 90 days and paying the remaining over 15 years at an interest rate of just 1% per annum. The country imports about 1,000 barrels a day.

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Extend network

Dominica has nearly 100% electrification, thanks to past rural electrification programs funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), USAID, and OAS. All generation sources are linked via 11kV inter-connectors and, in some instances, via 11Kv distribution feeders. The secondary distribution voltage is 230/400V. The transmission and distribution (T&D) network is comprised of 368 kilometres of 11kV and 922 kilometres of low voltage overhead lines.

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Capacity concerns

Slow economic growth in the last few years has resulted in slow growth in power demand (cost conscious households and businesses; minimal new investment in agri-business, tourism, manufacturing) and hence little or no investment in additional generation or system upgrades. Aging and poor quality electricity distribution lines cause high line losses – upwards of 10-14% - which is charged to the electricity consumer.

Electricity production in Dominica is mainly based on fossil fuels. The country is therefore dependent on fuel imports and exposed to increasingly volatile prices.

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Renewable energy

Dominica has sufficient untapped hydropower, wind energy, geothermal energy and solar energy that the country could obtain all of its electricity requirements from renewable energy sources, and have export capacity also. 

Dominica, with its mountains of up to 1432 m (4700 ft) above sea level, heavy rain fall, very thick rain forest and large number of streams and rivers flowing both east and west into the Atlantic ocean and Caribbean sea respectively, possesses considerable potential for the development of run-of-the-river hydroelectric power schemes. The Roseau river basin has been partially developed, and hydroelectric power is presently being generated at three power plants in Laudat, Trafalgar and Padu.

Dominica has potential to expand its hydro capacity for both utility and distributed generation. Since 2003, CREDP/GTZ has consulted in identifying additional hydro sites and river gauging, which DOMLEC has continued. There is interest in self-generation from several industrial enterprises and at least one resort, and a number of potential IPPs. Particularly, CREDP has assisted the Dominica Water and Sewerage Company in the Newtown project, where utilizing an existing conduit could provide 150 kW of commercial output.

Geothermal energy
Geothermal has been explored in Dominica since 1977. Although some extremely optimistic studies have indicated as much as 1,390 MW, the geothermal potential for Dominica is more often cited to be a fraction of this estimate, from 100 MW  to 300 MW.

Development of the Wotten Waven site in the southern part of the island is the current priority of Dominica’s energy program. This site alone has been assessed to contain potential for up to 120 MW, through up to 40 production and reinjection wells. The Government’s Energy Development Programme intends to produce at least 20 MW, reducing the cost of electricity to 0.06 USD/kWh (excluding fuel costs).

Wind energy
The Rosalie Bay Resort installed a 225 kW wind turbine for self-generation in 2008, the first utility-scale wind source in Dominica. Its expected annual production is 596 MWh, and surplus generation can be sold back to the grid. Since 2003, CREDP/GTZ has consulted with DOMLEC in wind development, reviewing historical wind studies and identifying potential sites on the island. They identified Crompton Point as having 10MW, contributing to a total of 30MW along the east coast of Dominica. DOMLEC has continued this initiative, but has had difficulty in acquiring the necessary land, due to small land parcels with unclear ownership, as well as planning around geographic and transportation challenges. Wind data was collected at the Pointe Mulâtre site from 2004 to 2006, and the utility has ordered two new measurement towers. DOMLEC is developing seven out of a total of nine wind sites.

Solar energy
The solar resource in Dominica varies greatly from the windward side to the leeward side. In the west, the island has good solar resources for flat-panel PV and solar hot water systems with GHI averaging over 5.6 kWh/m2/day. The eastern half of the island has poor resources. The DNI resource on both sides of the island is far poorer; suggesting that concentrated solar would perform poorly in this region.

DOMLEC does not have any demonstration or utility scale PV plans, but there is distributed generation from both the government and hospitality sectors in isolated locations, including a small-scale PV system at Morne Diablotin National Park. The Rosalie Forest/3 Rivers Eco Lodge has several isolated systems with SWH, micro hydro, PV, wind, and battery storage.

Biomass energy
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's Forestry Division, the opportunity for biomass energy utilisation in the country is high, and an economic and environmental feasibility study is recommended.

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Energy efficiency

The National Energy Policy of Dominica has, within its bounds, provisions for increasing efficiency in many sectors of the country's economy, notably increased transport emissions regulations. The Sustainable Energy Plan of the country commits Dominica to the utilisation of energy efficiency technologies in power generation, the tourism industry, and the Government.

System losses have been quite high in Dominica over the past few years. In year 2005 system losses amounted to 17.3% of generation. As part of the efficiency goals of DOMLEC, the system losses have gradually decreased since then to 12.5% in year 2008, below the legislated level of 14.5%. DOMLEC has as well been installing new meters which probably deceased losses related to inefficient metering.

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On 9th November 2006 the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Dominica enacted the Electricity Supply Act 2006 (“the Act”). Licensed until 2015, Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC, is involved in the generation, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity in the country.

Currently, the company is owned by US firm WRB (51%); the Dominica Social Security owns 20%, and local corporate and private citizens own the remaining 29%. DOMLEC operates two operating diesel plants (Fond Cole and Portsmouth, 16.03 MW), and three hydropower facilities (Laudat, Trafalgar and Padu, 6.42 MW).

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At the moment, DOMLEC is still the only power provider on the island. Its main owner is WRB Enterprise Inc., based in Florida. However, when the new Electricity Supply Act was enacted in November 2006, DOMLEC lost its monopoly, and the market was opened up for independent power producers. However, unclear technical and policy details have discouraged IPPs from entering the market. It is solely responsible for the generation, transmission, distribution and sale to customers and is operated as a vertically integrated company.

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Energy framework

The 2006 Electricity Law now declares the use of RE an official goal of the Government’s energy policy, whereby the following individual objectives are being pursued:

  • Optimisation of present applications and further development of hydroelectric resources,
  • Development of solar energy – the Government has already invested in a small-scale PV system (in Morne Diablotin National Park) and regards solar thermal systems (water heaters) as an important contribution toward reducing power consumption levels,
  • Further development of wind energy resources, particularly as ‘fuel savers’,
  • Participation in a geothermal energy project – a GEF-financed, OAS-coordinated sub-regional initiative encompassing Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Kitts & Nevis for the purpose of analysing and developing geothermal resources.

DOMLEC’s strategic renewable energy targets aims at generating 30% from renewable resources by 2013 and 40% by 2017. This could probably be achieved by upgrading and rehabilitating existing hydropower stations. As an example, the Ministry of Energy has supported the restoration, and possibly expansion of the Padu hydro electricity generation station that will have the capacity to increase the generation from 1.6 MW to 3 MW.

In parallel with the institution of a new regulatory authority, the National Energy Commission is also in the process of formulating an energy policy that will reflect the political will and long-term vision of the Government. While the Government has not yet formulated any particular RE promotion policy, all RE systems are already exempt from import taxes and value-added tax.

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Energy debates

Dominica began drafting a National Energy Policy in 2009, with support from OAS, REEEP, CARICOM, CARILEC, and the European Commission, as part of the Caribbean Sustainable Energy Program. The draft NEP proposes seven objectives: greater energy security, increased energy independence, including through the development of renewable natural resources, maximization of energy efficiency, greater environmental sustainability, reduction of energy costs and tariffs, and extension of universal electricity coverage.

The Government seeks to develop a transparent legal framework that creates a suitable investment and regulatory climate for developers in energy projects and technologies, thus ensuring Dominica’s sustainable development. The framework for the National Energy Policy considers the question of “how energy is supplied and used at present” and, more importantly from the policy perspective, “how are energy services to be supplied in the future".

Additionally, the World Bank through a technical assistance in growth and social protection employed the Castalia Strategic Advisors to provide the legal and regulatory framework for the development of alternative energy and alternative energy technology in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The project focuses on the need for legislation specific to the development of the country’s geothermal energy resources, and on environmental and planning regulations for renewable energy for electricity generation in Dominica. The consultancy provided advice on the need for separate legislation and regulations for the development of the geothermal energy resources. As a result, a draft Geothermal Resources Development Bill and draft Environmental and Planning Regulations for Renewable Energy were produced. These documents are currently under review for approval and implementation. It is anticipated that OAS/CSEP/OAS will provide assistance to the government in the final phase of adoption of the legislation.

The government of Dominica lacks a specific national energy policy, but it does include objectives for its energy sector in its Medium-Term [Economic] Growth and Social Protection Strategy (GSPS). These include energy conservation policies, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels by diversifying energy sources through an “extensive expansion program”. However, the only goal that has been acted upon is the liberalization of the electricity sector, which was enacted by the ESA in 2006.

To address the lack of a NEP/SEP, the Renewable Energy Programme office developed an Energy Development Program presentation in 2009. This document refines the energy sector goals included in the GSPS, and includes goals for a formal NEP and SEP for Dominica.

The Energy Unit intends to draft a NEP to include the Government’s position on self-generation, energy efficiency, safety, standards, public-private partnerships, pricing and taxation, and energy trading. The NEP will also include energy efficiency and conservation throughout the value chain, with considerations for biodiversity, forestation levels, and other environmental aspects.

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Energy studies

In July 2002, a study published by the University of the West Indies Centre for Environment and Development (UWICED) ─entitled “The Potential of Renewable Energy Technologies-Diversifying Dominica’s Energy Supply”─ identified five sites for further study.

In 2003, the GTZ carried out a wind energy assessment for Government. This study covered nine sites on the southeast coast and five sites in the northeast. The reports stated that the northeast coast of Dominica present the best opportunities for large scale development of wind power on wind farms. The report also stated that the weakness of the electricity distribution system did not allow for large injections of power along the east and northeast coasts.

In May and June of 2004, feasibility studies on hydro power for Dominica were carried out by GTZ. The objectives of the studies were to assess the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Trafalgar and/or Padu hydro-electric power plants according to DOMLEC’s priorities. The reports concluded that “all of the investigated rehabilitation and upgrading options are technically feasible and economically and financially viable”.

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Role of government

Ministry of Housing, Lands, Telecommunications, Energy and Ports
The Ministry of Housing, Lands, Telecommunications, Energy and Ports is responsible for formulating Dominican energy policy. The Energy Unit of the ministry sets policy on electricity generation and distribution, including development of RE.  The unit has an office coordinating Dominica’s Renewable Energy Programme. In addition, in 2010 was established a Project Management Unit (PMU), which will be in charge of the geothermal resource.

Ministry of Public Work and Public Utilities
The Ministry of Public Work and Public Utilities is responsible for operating the public utility companies DOWASCO (water) and DOMLEC (electricity).

The Ministry of Public Utilities, Energy Unit
Within the Ministry, the Energy Unit is responsible for coordinating the development and expansion of electricity production and distribution, including the development of RE sources. The Unit also coordinates matters related to the supply and provision of public lighting.

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Government agencies

Dominica does not currently have a dedicated governmental agency in sustainable energy. Private entities such as the Dominican Sustainable Energy Corporation (DSEC) have attempted to promote sustainable energy through trial projects previously, with limited success.

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Energy procedure

In April 2008, the Government signed a Transnational Partnership Agreement (TPA) with the Regional Councils of Guadeloupe and Martinique and other development agency partners to continue research into the feasibility of geothermal development in the Wotton Waven area, and of inter-connectivity between Dominica and Guadeloupe and Martinique for geothermal power transmission. The Geothermie Caraibe Project is  funded under the INTERREG III B program of the EU

The TPA is the prelude to the project Preparation of a Geothermal- bases Cross- Border Electrical Interconnection in the Caribbean financed by the European Union, AFD and FFEM by the sum of €5.5 million over three years. Within the next two years the investment will provide the Government with technical, financial, institutional and legal information for the establishment of geothermal plants and to sell 100 MW of electricity to Guadeloupe and Martinique via submarine cable as part of the EU’s 20/20/20 commitment.

In July 2008, the Government issued a license to West Indies Power (Dominica) Ltd (WIPO) for the exploration and exploitation of the geothermal resources in the Soufriere area. Since then WIPO, with support from the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Telecommunications, has identified the geothermal reservoir. Results so far are favourable to encourage WIPO to pursue its proposed geothermal energy investment program.

In the short term, the government also intends to address the weaknesses in its current energy policy. It will refine the 2006 Electricity Supply Act to clarify regulations for IPPs, and adopt renewable energy legislation and regulations. Long-term goals of DOMLEC include improving grid maintenance so that power losses through transmission and distribution are reduced to single-digit percentages.

Secondary to these goals, the Dominica Energy Development Programme also calls for studies of additional hydropower and geothermal sites, energy audits of government facilities, and incentives to encourage use of solar hot water systems in homes and hospitality sectors.

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Energy regulator

The Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) was established by the Electricity Supply Act No. 10 of 2006.The functions of the IRC are to encourage the expansion of electricity supply to Dominica where this is cost effective and in the public interest, and to encourage the operation and development of safe, efficient and economical electricity sector in Dominica. The IRC is to ensure the security and efficiency of the supply of electricity, and facilitate the promotion of sustainable and fair competition, while protecting the interest of all classes of consumers of electricity in Dominica.

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Degree of independence

The law requires the IRC to be independent in the performance of its functions and duties, and it shall not be subject to the direction and control of the Government or of any person, corporation or authority, except that the Commission shall have due regard to the public interest and overall Government policy as embodied in the legislation. The board consists of the Chairman and four Commissioners, all appointed by the Minister for Public Utilities.

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Regulatory framework

The power sector is regulated by the recently amended Electricity Supply Act (ESA). The new ESA was passed by parliament in November 2006 and entered into force in January 2007. The new energy law 2006 replaces the old ESA dating from 1996, which had granted DOMLEC a universal licence up until 2025.

Under the old law, other companies required permission from DOMLEC to engage in auto-generation. The new law, though, abolishes DOMLEC’s monopoly by opening up the energy market for companies interested in generating, distributing and marketing electricity. One key element of the 2006 ESA is the establishment of a regulatory authority (IRC) whose responsibility is to regulate all power-sector enterprises and licensees to protect the interests of all market participants, and to approve electricity tariffs.

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Regulatory roles

The IRC has the following functions:

  • Encouraging wider availability of electricity supply throughout Dominica,
  • Ensuring that all reasonable demands for electricity are met,
  • Promoting efficiency in the generation, transmission, distribution, supply and use of electricity,
  • Establishing technical standards applicable to providing electricity services or installations on customer’s premises,
  • Protecting the interests of consumers,
  • Facilitating competition in the electricity sector,
  • Enabling the financial viability of efficient licensees,
  • Issuing, monitoring and amending licenses and collecting license and other fees,
  • Establishing and monitoring standards by which the efficiency of the service provision can be evaluated,
  • Inspecting and testing electrical plant and equipment owned by licensees as well as consumers,
  • Promoting wider regional cooperation in the regulation and operation of the electricity sector.
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Energy regulation role

No Government department takes an active role in energy regulation in the country. The Ministry of Public Works is responsible for pursuing governmental policy on renewable energy promotion and regulation, in collaboration with the IRC.

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Regulatory barriers

Dominica is taking steps in developing a new energy policy that would entail greater use of indigenous RES and the adoption of EE measures. A draft National Energy Policy was finalized in November2009. The draft was submitted to the Government for review. If approved, the new policy will create favourable market conditions for the deployment of new renewable energy developments on the island.

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References Energy Policy and Sector Analysis in the Caribbean (2010-2011). Available from [Accessed 28 July 2013]

 Ketilsson, Jónas (2009): Energy Development in Dominica. Available at [Accessed 28 July 2013]

UN FAO: Biomass Production for Fuelwood and Charcoal. [Accessed 29 July 2013]
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