Saba celebrating 50 years of 24-hour electricity provision

Today, Thursday, December 24, 2020, marks fifty years since residents of Saba became able to switch on and off their home lights at their own convenience. In commemoration of this historic occasion a short film was produced to highlight the life of Sabans before and after the introduction of 24- hour electricity. This film can be viewed on Saba Electric Company (SEC) NV’s Face-book page.

The traditional Christmas Home Lighting Competi­tion, with more than 20 participants having signed up, was reintroduced to cel­ebrate this golden jubilee.

On Christmas Eve 1970, electricity pioneer and SEC founder the late El­mer Linzey and his team successfully completed the tedious job of power­ing up Saba. Prior to that date electricity was pro­vided between 6:00pm and 12:00am, when it was lights out at midnight until the next evening.

Some of Saba’s electrical pioneers with founders Elmer Linzey (front row, fourth from right) and Albert Linzey (front row, fifth from right). Photo provided by Will John­son from his historical photo collection.

SEC was the brainchild of Sabans Atthello M. Ed­wards and her nephews Elmer and Albert Linzey, who in 1962 founded the company. In 1968 SEC was sold to limited-liability company GEBE, which was founded in 1960 and financed on an equal basis by the former government of the Netherlands Antil­les and the Overseas Gas and Electricity Company OGEM, with the purpose to serve St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba with electricity. Later, the Netherlands Antilles gov­ernment purchased the re­maining shares of OGEM, and obtained full owner­ship of GEBE.

It was decided in 2005 that the shares of GEBE would be transferred to the island territories of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. At that time, parties could not reach a decision on the division of shares and a shareholding foundation was incorporated until a decision was reached.

A decision was finally made in Statia on October 2011 when a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was agreed on and signed between then-minister
Theodore Heyliger on be­half of St. Maarten, then-commissioner Chris John­son for Saba, and then-commissioner Koos Sneek for Statia. It was decided that provisions would be made to guarantee that each island would have its own electricity company by January 1, 2014.

SEC was brought back into operation as a stand­alone electric company for Saba. Since then, the com­pany has transitioned into an exemplary energy pro­vider in the region, which its founders would be proud of, said SEC presi­dent director Charles D. Johnson.

“It is only fitting, when commemorating an occa­sion like this, that the vi­sionaries and pioneers are recognised for laying the groundwork for what many of us take for granted to­day. Many sacrifices were made in those early days, and still are today, so that we could share the plea­sures of having electricity,” said Johnson.

“These electrical pioneers and the many treasured former employees of SEC laid the groundwork under some very hard and some­times impossible condi­tions. The days of the ker­osene refrigerators, lamps, coal pots, the ironing goose and scrubbing boards have long passed, which many of the new generation know little of.”

The Daily Herald.

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