SVG

Opposition examining ways to reduce electricity fuel surcharge

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo)

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace. (File photo)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, April 24, IWN – The Government should consider changing the base year used for the calculation of its fuel surcharge in an effort to reduce electricity prices here, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace says.

Eustace, speaking on his weekly radio programme on Monday, said opposition MPs Daniel Cummings and St. Clair Leacock have been examining this issue.

“That is something that we are examining and we will make a presentation not long [from now]. Leacock and Cummings have been doing some work in this area, looking at some alternatives. If you do that, you will be able to get some rates down,” Eustace said.

Eustace spoke of the impact of high electricity cost on households, businesses, and the national economy, including its ability to attract investors.

He noted that electricity costs have been increasing partly because of the price of oil.

But he said prices are also climbing because of “some inefficiency in VINLEC, including the inefficient use of the funds for that project (power plant) down at Lowman’s Bay”.

He said the high cost of electricity is causing a lot of hardships.

“It really is bringing hardships, very serious hardships on hundreds of people, thousands in fact, in this country,” Eustace said, adding that he is not hearing solutions from the Government.

“They will tell you we don’t control oil process. I know that. But you can make efficiencies in what you are doing to stave some off the impact of the high oil prices,” Eustace said.

“The surcharge is killing people,” Eustace said as he suggested that the Government change the base year or the calculation of the fuel surcharge.

He noted that the fuel surcharge falls when the nation’s hydropower plants generate large amounts of electricity.

“But it is a critical thing. It is affecting lives and you can’t wait too long to take a decision. A decision should have been taken already to try to bring some ease to the public.

“And the situation is so difficult right now for most people and sometimes the difference is between that and food. And most people do not want to lose their electricity for various reasons — and for all the obvious reasons.

“And I am appealing to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to examine this issue right now. Look at the date all over again and see how you can restructure to bring some ease to the public.

“And there are ways you can restructure — accounting and other ways, which we need to examine more closely, and alternative sources of energy, which we need to pay more attention to,” Eustace said.

An ‘all-consuming’ problem

“The electricity problem is all consuming. And very often, we don’t look at it in that way. We see it simply as people not able to pay their bills and therefore they experience some hardships.

“It is much, much wider than that. Electricity, as a cost of doing business in St. Vincent, is very high and therefore helps to keep prices very high.”

He said some businesses, including supermarkets, pay more than $1.5 million a year for electricity.

“Today, when you go into a supermarket at the electricity price is over one and half million dollars, you are paying for that.

“Now, a business man wanting to come here to set up a business, that is going to affect him too,” he said, adding that the cost of electricity impacts employment.

“So, the Government has to take a stand.

“I want people to realise that as long as electricity continues to be high, our country is less competitive…

“If we manage to come up with arrangements to bring the cost of [operating] VINLEC down, we will see a difference in businesses in terms of their cost. We will see a difference in prices too, if we can make some significant reduction in the price of fuel. And these are the things we have to look at,” Eustace said.

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Discussion

8 thoughts on “Opposition examining ways to reduce electricity fuel surcharge

  1. Its very simple, there is an instant way to reduce the fuel surcharge. VINLEC must stop supplying the Argyle airport with diesel fuel. To date they have never repaid a cent. That cost is being paid for by everyone else by way of an excessive fuel surcharge on their electricity bill.

    Now I am not sure that VINLEC still supply or pay for the fuel used at the airport, which is a very substantial amount. It started off that way, despite my asking the question on a number of occasions no one has confirmed or
    denied that it is still happening, so we must assume it is, otherwise they would be quick to deny it. The fuel surcharge is probably double what it should be because of this.

    Because we are paying the Cubans wages after being lied to by the PM who told us that Venezuela was paying them [about $380,000 a month, fifteen to twenty million to date], there is no money left to pay for fuel.

    Its time to get rid of the Cubans, after all they are only here to satisfy the political propagandist Marxist mind of Ralph Gonsalves. He may owe them something, he may be fulfilling a past promise or obligation to them, but we the people of SVG owe them nothing, they are parasites.

    As for the Venezuelans they have never given us anything for free, they have made us take repayable loans from them. I actually believe that we paid for the initial machinery that was sent here. They and the Cubans are not members of any coalition of the willing, they are all socialist leaches, sucking us dry.

    Industrial investors will not come to SVG because of the cost of operating, the electricity cost kills any proposed business deal. Many of the stores in Kingstown leave their doors open and turn off the lights and air-conditioning, that’s how bad it is.

    Thousands of Vincentian people have had to turn off their refrigerators, and many have had their supply cut off. Leaving school children unable to use their school supplied laptops to study.

    THE COST OF ELECTRICITY LINKED WITH A RUBBISH REGIME IS STOPPING PEOPLE FROM LIVING PROPER AND DECENT LIVES.

    Posted by peterbinose | April 24, 2013, 08:01
  2. There are several alternative energy source that can be utilized in SVG, but this government is yet to look at other things, to help Vincentians live a comfortable life.
    The government should encourage people to invest in solar energy. I have spoken about turning the water heating solar system into one that can generate electricity for the entire house. The excess energy from a solar system can be sold to VINLEC to reduce electricity throughout the entire island.
    The bank and other lending institutions can play a role in this venture by giving loans to home owners. The money owners pay to VINLEC can repay that loan with very little hardship on them. If my brother had followed my advice, he would have owned his own solar system today.
    Then there is wind power that can be derived from some well placed wind farms on mountain tops, or in the corridor between Bequia and the mainland. The area around the Argyle airport or a little further north is an ideal location. St. Lucia is looking a thermal energy for a geyser on the island. Is it any wonder its economy is doing much better that SVGs?
    If the people at Building and Loan can get their act together: They can really make a difference in the life of Vincentians. They should encourage home builders to add the solar energy source to their property. They can also put out the money for the wind system. Electricity is like bread: Folks must have it to survive. Hence it’s a commodity that is marketable and will be in demand.
    I will advise Arnhim and Ralph to get their people to work on an energy plan. No one can claim all the credit, if both parties invest the time and energy in the venture.
    There are so many things that can implemented to reduce the hardship and strain on Vincentians. They need leaders with vision and not those who talk a lot.

    Posted by pvpalmer | April 24, 2013, 10:52
  3. – The St. Lucia government says it will amend existing legislation governing the operations of the St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC), the sole electricity company, as it moves to provide consumers with relief from high electricity rates.
    “LUCLEC has to understand when there are good times they enjoy the good times but when there are bad times, it too must make the adjustment for the sake of the people of the country, Prime Minister Kenny Anthony said.

    -The rapid escalation in the cost of electricity has prompted the Anguilla government to craft a renewable energy project in the hope of providing reliable, environmentally more sustainable electricity at lower cost.

    -The island of Carriacou in Grenada will be the home of a multimillion dollar wind farm established with the aim of bringing down electricity costs within the three-island nation.

    -The Jamaican government is undertaking a wind mapping study to determine wind blowing patterns and the best sites for erecting wind farms across the island.

    -Minister of Public Works Rayburn Blackmoore has reported that Dominica has been deemed the most advanced as far as geothermal energy is concerned at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Conference which recently concluded in Barbados.

    These are just a snippets of various projects around the Caribbean that is exploring or implementing renewable energy resources in an effort to reduce overall cost of oil import and to bring much needed relief to consumers. My question is, WTF is the Gonsalves Administration doing to get similar projects off the ground in Vincyland? I know there is an endless stream of hot air from Gonsalves and his minions on this issue; if only we could harness all this hot air from these blowhards,our renewable energy would have been second to none; but unfortunately that is not the case and it appears once again, we just spinning top in mud on this issue of renewable energy.

    By the way, what happen to the PETROCARIBE DEAL, WHY ARE WE PAYING SO MUCH FOR FUEL CHARGE WHEN WE ARE GETTING OR SUPPOSEDLY GETTING “CHEAP OIL” FROM THE PETROCARIBE DEAL? OR IS THE PETROCARIBE DEAL SIMPLY NOT AS GOOD A DEAL HAS PROMOTED BY GONSALVES? Wasn’t the objective of the initiative to alleviate the burden of rising oil prices and its negative impact on Caribbean countries? Mm.

    So what is Eustace and the NDP plans, to address this issue of renewable energy? Well a did some “SUBSTANTIVE” AND “INVESTIGATIVE WORK” (lol) and unearth this nugget of information:

    Under the current government, there seems little room for the private sector to become involved in this critical component of our development. The power plant at Lowman’s Bay had to be retrofitted at great cost to be able to use Bunker C fuel. The size of the engines used also raises the question of the over working of units which will impact on the reliability of the service as well as the need to upgrade urgently. Non traditional forms of energy such as wind and solar have not been given the attention they deserve.

    Geothermal Energy

    The NDP will pursue an aggressive agenda for development of our country’s geothermal energy resources by working with capable, proven private sector entities with the necessary track record in geothermal energy development. The objective for geothermal energy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be to:

    * Immediately commence a thorough investigation of the geothermal resource on mainland St. Vincent, and
    * If the resource is proven, proceed to develop 20 – 50 MW geothermal base load power capacity on the mainland.

    This capacity will:-
    * Dramatically reduce foreign exchange expenditure on imported fossil fuels,
    * Drastically cut national greenhouse gas emissions, and
    * Eliminate the fuel surcharge from customers’ electricity bills.

    Wind Energy

    Preliminary wind regime measurements in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have indicated that wind energy is a readily-available resource that is going to waste. The new NDP administration will use regional best-practices as a model for developing wind farms using existing technology to provide affordable, environmentally sustainable electricity for businesses, institutions and homes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Solar Energy

    Solar energy use at present in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very limited in all sectors and will be expanded through the application of a coherent programme of tax and financial incentives.

    * Hotels, businesses and households will get a tax write-off on the purchase of solar water heaters in the year of acquisition.
    * An NDP government will encourage local lending institutions to access EU low interest funding available for solar energy development.
    The NDP will undertake a pilot project to air condition a government building using solar energy, as part of a wider programme of developing an indigenous solar-cooling manufacturing and assembly industry, which will be able to produce solar cooling equipment for the CARICOM market.

    Energy Efficiency

    Whatever the source of our energy, it needs to be used more efficiently. The NDP’s vision is to move the nation towards adopting a culture of energy efficiency. This will be led by example from government level and will involve a comprehensive programme targeted at the transport, household, business and government sectors.

    Electrical Interconnection of our Island Grids

    To improve the efficiency in the provision of energy on a multi island state such as ours, the NDP will work through our public utility, St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd, to undertake a technical and economic feasibility study of the development of an interconnected national power grid, which will ultimately be powered in the medium term by a minimum of 90% renewable energy.

    Conclusion – Energy and Electricity Supply

    At present there seems little room for the private sector to become involved in the development of renewable energy.

    There is little doubt that non-traditional forms of energy such as wind and solar have not been given the attention they deserve, especially since the cost of oil has gone to over $75.00 per barrel.

    St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an excellent choice for the development of geothermal energy. Where available geothermal energy is a significantly cheaper and renewable energy source. Should our potential be realized, this will have significant and positive impact on our fledgling manufacturing sector and give a competitive edge to many small and medium sized enterprises. It will also afford a unique opportunity to attract new manufacturing enterprises that depend heavily on energy input.

    The NDP is aware that there are many options available for the development of alternative energy sources, including using private sector firms that will bring their own investments with long term payoffs for the company and the country.

    The NDP will insist that VINLEC focuses on its core competencies and gives up the political distractions that are hindering its ability to deliver at optimum efficiency.

    Posted by Teacherfang (@Llijame) | April 24, 2013, 17:57
    • TEACHERFANG, Thanks for this bit of information. The NDP should beat this like a road march, right up to the next election. The only way the ULP can get NDP off-track, is if they take the ideas and run with it, but they can’t. Here is why: There is a need for the private sector to get involved and I don’t think they trust this government enough to do so. Next there are no coalition of the willing on the horizon, that will take a chance, especially since the airport is eating up so much money. The only avenue the ULP has to acquire funds for any energy project is to raise taxes. Even the ULP supporters will bark at this approach.
      The NDP has a great topic and that’s all they should be using from this day on. The ULP will try to beat it down, but they will have a hard time convincing Vincentians they have a better plan based on my explanation above. NDP must also show Vincentians other moneysaving ideas that they will introduce when/if they win the 2015 election. Don’t allow Ralph to set the agenda. This has been his approach from day one, and he hasn’t changed. People know Ralph is a stranger to the truth, so the NDP won’t have to worry much about what comes out of his mouth.
      In you document you mentioned, ” Hotels, businesses and households will get a tax write-off on the purchase of solar water heaters in the year of acquisition”. I have to disagree with the inclusion of households and even some businesses. Hotel may need the water heaters, but households and some business can get the electricity to heat the same water. I believe one solar system can work for both hot water and electricity.
      These are the articles I like to read. They help to inform readers and give hope a chance in our homeland.
      .

      Posted by pvpalmer | April 27, 2013, 17:54
  4. We need to utilize all the natural form of electrical energy generation available to us. It is high time for us to seriously look at Solar and Wind powered electrical energy generation system since that the demand for oil makes it more and more expensive. I am positive of the fact that if we were to seriously invest in the above mention form of energy our electrical generation cost will be significantly reduce. Many countries are taking advantage of these natural sources of energy. We need to study how many hours of sun light we receive daily and the amount of wind produce in various parts of the country. Please lets us utilized what we have to satisfy our needs as far as possible.

    Posted by Eric Audain | April 25, 2013, 05:27
  5. Its very simple, there is an instant way to reduce the fuel surcharge. VINLEC must stop supplying the Argyle airport with diesel fuel. To date they have never repaid a cent. That cost is being paid for by everyone else by way of an excessive surcharge.

    Now I am not sure that VINLEC still supply or pay for the fuel used at the airport, which is a very substantial amount. It started off that way, despite my asking the question on a number of occasions no one has confirmed or
    denied that it is still happening, so we must assume it is, otherwise they would be quick to deny it. The fuel surcharge is probably double what it should be.

    Because we are paying the Cubans wages after being lied to by the PM who told us that Venezuela was paying them [about $380,000 a month], there is no money left to pay for fuel.

    Its time to get rid of the Cubans, after all they are only here to satisfy the political propagandist Marxist mind of Ralph Gonsalves. He may owe them something, he may be fulfilling a past promise or obligation to them, but we the people of SVG owe them nothing, they are parasites.

    As for the Venezuelans they have never given us anything for free, they have made us take repayable loans from them. I actually believe that we paid for the initial machinery that was sent here. They and the Cubans are not members of any coalition of the willing, they are all socialist leaches, sucking us dry.

    Industrial investors will not come to SVG because of the cost of operating, the electricity cost kills any proposed business deal. Many of the stores in Kingstown leave their doors open and turn off the lights and air-conditioning, that’s how bad it is.

    Thousands of Vincentian people have had to turn off their refrigerators, and many have had their supply cut off. Leaving school children unable to use their school supplied laptops to study.

    THE COST OF ELECTRICITY LINKED WITH A RUBBISH REGIME IS STOPPING PEOPLE FROM LIVING PROPER AND DECENT LIVES.

    Posted by peterbinose | April 26, 2013, 19:58
  6. Peterbinose, I am replying ONLY to the early part of your post, where you said that you are not sure that Vinlec still supply (or pay for, which I know NOTHING about) the fuel used at the airport.

    I have never seen the airport green fuel tankers coming out the byroad to and from Vinlec’s Lowmans plant let alone see them taking – or supplying – fuel at the plant. So to be fair, I cannot pinpoint it.

    But I see them (up to recent – which is your question – and I am in the area oftenish) coming up the main road hill, FULL, laden to the gunnels, struggling under the weight, coming from the Campden Park area heading towards Kingstown area. Or Argyle area, if you prefer.

    I don’t suppose they can down on me if I were to guess that the airport is getting fuel (still) from Vinlec but you can never be sure of these bigots. They don’t need no good – or any – reason to down on a man.

    Let me repeat: man dono nuttin bout no financial arrangements. But my guess is that they are not too flush in spite of Matthias saying that money is not a problem. Hence the “Throw in ah dollar” to help build the airport campaign.

    By the way, is who getting how much of that collection? If a shopkeeper was to grab out a handful from the tim, who’s to know? And who’s to say how much “missing?” That set up is a farce and a scam and the kind of thing they get away with.

    You ever see a collection tin. The cover strap down with scotch tape.

    At this stage, I dono that the public will ever get wise.

    Oh, by the way, I see the green tankers going down empty. Yea, I can see through metal … by the way the suspension is loaded.

    Posted by patrickferrari | April 27, 2013, 14:10
  7. What people need to realise is that until we change this scum Marxist regime, alternate power will not be forthcoming.

    WHY? well its very simple, VINLEC are a big money earner for this ULP government. Much needed money that can flow into the airport as money, and as diesel into the tanks of the airports trucks, plant and machinery. Its more of the PetroCaribe fund, putting 40% of VINLECS fuel needs and usage purchases from VINLEC as a loan from PetroCaribe, then charging the consumer the full amount and creating a huge debt for our children and their children. The consumers will be paying twice for their electricity, once to VINLEC, once to the government as tax’s so as to pay the PetroCaribe debt.

    So seeing as this bunch of scum bags needs VINLEC to use as much fuel as they can, and for VINLEC to charge the consumers as much as possible, the ULP will never favour alternate energy, which cuts down on the PetroCaribe purchases.

    The ULP have been talking about alternative power since 2001, that’s all it is, pretence and more talk.

    If you really want alternative power, get rid of the ULP, get rid of Gonsalves, they are holding us back, hindering progress.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE SMELL THE SULPHUR

    Posted by peterbinose | May 3, 2013, 08:56

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