Customers to get a well needed relief in their electricity cost

Dep. Prime Minister Dr. Earl Asim Martin

ZIZ News…April 10, 2013 — Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Earl Asim Martin, during his participation in the Budget Debate Tuesday evening announced a major reduction in the cost of the electricity fuel surcharge through an incentive programme.

The details were released by Information Minister Nigel Carty in a Cabinet Press Briefing moments ago. Those details are as follows:

Government announces electricity cost relief…Citizens and residents of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, good day. I bring to you the post-Cabinet briefing for Cabinet meeting held Monday April 8th, 2013.

ELECTRICITY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY MATTERS

Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Hon. Earl Asim Martin, presented to the Cabinet at its meeting on Monday a comprehensive three-pronged plan to reduce the cost of electricity to residents and nationals of the Federation. The Hon. Deputy Prime Minister explained that in addressing the unacceptably high cost of electricity in St. Kitts and Nevis resulting from the very high cost of fuel imported from overseas, he was adamant that government adopt a medium-term strategy to bring immediate relief lasting about three years and a long-term strategy to reduce the cost of electricity over many years in the future.

Under his medium-term plan, the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Asim Martin proposes to subsidise the fuel charge to all residential consumers, and this will be done in a manner to promote efficient use of electricity. The plan is as follows:

• Consumers burning less than 250KWh will pay zero fuel charge and additionally will benefit from further reductions in the principal part of their electricity bills. This intervention will benefit 65% of all residential consumers.

• Persons using between 250 and 350Kwh will pay only half (or 50%) of the fuel charge;

• Persons consuming between 350 and 450KWh will pay 60% of the fuel charge;

• Persons burning between 450 and 500KWh will pay 70% of the fuel charge;

• Consumers using between 500 and 800KWh will have to pay 80% of the fuel charge;

• Beyond 800KWh, residential consumers will have to pay 90% of the fuel charge.

Deputy Prime Minister Martin was very strongly of the view that while the government must help consumers to meet the unavoidably high cost of electricity, there must be a component of the programme to encourage the practice of conservation and to encourage responsible consumption to make the programme sustainable. Dr. Martin intimated that the high cost of fuel on the world market is driven by demand or consumption, and consumers all over the world, St. Kitts and Nevis included, have a responsibility to reduce their consumption of electricity in order to push the price of fuel downwards.

With regard to the long-term interventions, Deputy Prime Minister Martin proposed two initiatives. Firstly, a project for immediate implementation but which will have long-term impact will provide low interest, long-term loans for the purchase of solar energy systems for up to 600 residential consumers in the first instance. The term of the loan of approximately EC$15,000 will be 5% for 10 to 20 years which will mean a monthly payment of about EC$100 to EC$160 with no down-payment. For consumers using electricity beyond a certain threshold, this is a very viable option to reduce electricity cost and to contribute to the development of the emerging renewable energy sector in our country as electricity generated in excess by these solar energy systems will be sold back into the grid and monies collected for it. The fine details on the criteria for accessing this programme will be made available at the Ministry of the Deputy Prime Minister at the Needsmust Office.

Finally, Dr. Martin proposes that the Federal government continue to give very strong support to the geothermal energy project to harness the benefits of a much cheaper source of energy over the long term. The analysis shows that taking all things into consideration, outputs of electricity from the geothermal energy project can decrease the price of electricity to as low as 15 cents per Kwh. In addition, Dr. Martin requested of the cabinet provisional approval for the completion of the final phases of a wind energy development project to be developed in Belle Vue mountain as another renewable energy initiative to help reduce the cost of electricity over the long term.

Dr. Martin, the recently-appointed Deputy Prime Minister, was confident that the future prosperity of our twin-island Federation rests with our initiative as a government to secure long-term sustainability on the energy front. Low energy cost, the Minister said, would precipitate rapid development in every sector of our local economy and redound to the benefit of all.

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