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NEVLEC Consumers to Continue Paying Fuel Surcharge

Electricity consumers on Nevis will have to continue picking up the high fuel surcharge tab as St. James candidate Hon. Patrice Nisbett says the NIA cannot afford to subsidize the utility.

“The economic reality of the global environment and economy does not put the government in a position to subsidize the fuel surcharge. The government has been told so locally and have been told so by reputable international organizations that based on the present finances of the government, it cannot continue to subsidize that fuel surcharge,” Hon. Nisbett said. He was at the time speaking at a meeting at the Franklyn Brown Community Centre in Camps on Tuesday Nov 20), which was geared toward young adults in St. James.

He said the only way for the fuel surcharge cost to be lowered is if the price of oil on the world market is drastically reduced from over $100US per barrel to the $30 pre-financial crisis price. The fuel surcharge rate is commensurate with the cost of fuel, officials have explained, and will fluctuate along with the price of oil.

The NRP candidate for the St. James constituency said tax-payers would have to bear the burden of the high fuel surcharge. He said geothermal energy was the most efficient and cheapest way to go to reduce the cost of electricity on the island.

“Out of solar and wind the greatest hope is geothermal because what geothermal does is offer you base load generation. Geothermal is constant and will be there all the time compared to wind and sun. Geothermal will be the cheapest,” he said.

Nevis’ geothermal project, which had been stalled for some time, came to an official halt when in May of this year when the NIA filed suit in the Nevis High Court to have West Indies Power (Nevis) Ltd. declared insolvent. According to the court documents, the NIA was through the legal action, seeking to break its contract with the cash-strapped WIP and have its exclusive license to produce geothermal energy on the island revoked. One year prior Premier Hon. Joseph Parry announced the NIA was guaranteeing a multi-million-dollar loan for West Indies Power (WIP) from Ex-Im Bank in Washington to finance a 10MW geothermal electricity plant on Nevis. He claimed using geothermal energy to generate electricity would result in a 40% savings on citizens’ electricity bills.

Nisbett told Tuesday’s gathering of young persons that the government has suffered a setback caused by “some people not recognizing that geothermal energy is not a political event but a national event”.

“It is of national significance because I don’t think if you put geothermal energy in the grid you can say because you red, blue or green you are going to get. It is everybody in Nevis who will benefit from the production of geothermal energy and the reality of geothermal energy in the grid of Nevis,” he said.

Hon. Nisbett went on to suggest ways consumers could better manage their electricity bills.

“Householders can use the solar panels more so they themselves can impact upon the amount of energy that they use from the national grid,” he said.

Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement contends that by introducing and maintaining the high fuel surcharge on consumption of electricity, the  quality of life for Nevisians has been negatively impacted. He lamented the number of persons who have had to suffer the embarrassment and inconvenience of having the ‘current cut off’.

Hon. Nisbett said the NRP was aware of the disconnections.

“We cannot downplay or minimize that a number of people today are being cut off from electricity supply because they owe and they are not able to pay. That is an import part of our responsibility to our people, that we let them know that we are aware of what is happening,” he said.

Amory on the other hand said if the CCM takes control of the government his party will be “committed to reducing the fuel surcharge”.



Category/ies:News, St Kitts and Nevis News.
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