SKELEC’s fuel bill tops EC$10 million monthly, Dr. Martin outlines steps to reduce costs to consumers

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MARCH 14TH 2013 (CUOPM) – The fuel bill of the St. Kitts Electricity Corporation (SKELEC) is EC$10 million monthly, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy, the Hon. Dr. Earl Asim Martin has disclosed.

Appearing on Austin Edinborough’s Freedom Talk on Freedom 106.5 FM recently, Dr. Martin said the escalating price of fuel on the world market continues to be a concern to the Government and the Ministry.

He said since the transition of SKELEC into a public corporation from a department within the Ministry of Public Utilities, there has been improved efficiency and minor power outages.

Dr. Martin said that the Ministry continues to look at several alternatives to reduce the cost of electricity to consumers and is looking at several proposals with the focus on renewable energy and urges conservation to reduce bills.

“I am strongly of the view that renewable energy is the direction that we would have to go, in ensuring that we are able to sustain the kind of relief that we want to bring to our customers. The Ministry of Energy, along with SKELEC began to look various alternatives as to how we can look at reducing the cost of electricity,” he said.

Plans to establish a five megawatt wind farm at Belle Vue by North Star have been given new life as a result of new financing.

“They have had to come back to the Government and restart discussions with SKELEC about the whole power purchase arrangement and the contract in terms of moving forward.

We have given them a deadline by the 31st March that all those aspects pertaining to the financing and moving forward should be completed, because there are other persons out there who are keenly interested in moving in the supply of wind energy forward,” said Dr. Martin.

He said proposals to establish a one megawatt solar farm with the assistance of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is being finalized.

The Needsmust Power plant (Photos by Erasmus Williams)

“This too will have an impact on the overall cost of fuel because once we begin to use more or our renewable resources and other natural components, this would have an impact in the overall cost of fuel, which is a major factor in the cost of electricity to consumers,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

“SKELEC spends almost $10million dollars per month and that is the major task that SKELEC has to manage on a monthly basis,” said Dr. Martin, who spoke to an arrangement with the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF), SKELEC and the Ministry of Energy in a project that will provide solar panels to local consumers as a way of reducing their electricity bills.

“This is a joint arrangement as we are able to go forward and to build on it; hopefully we will be able to roll out this project as soon as possible. The SIDF is on-board, SKELEC is on-board and the Ministry of Energy is on-board,” said Dr. Martin.

“We have some consumers who have already installed solar panels on their rooftops and they are telling me that they have seen a reduction in the overall cost of their electricity bill and we just want to move this on a larger scale so that a lot more consumers can benefit from a reduction in their electricity bills,” said Dr. Martin, who also spoke about an End-to-End project by SKELEC that involves converting into a smart grid that will allow the provisions of smart meters where persons will be able to see what they are consuming much more efficiently on a daily basis.

“They will also be able to move into a system where it may be a prepaid system because there are some customers out there who are renting properties and who would want to enter into a prepaid arrangement, so that can those persons who are into the rental business can have a more efficient way of monitoring and controlling their own electricity bills of their tenants,” said Dr. Martin said.

Speaking on the critical issue of energy conservation, Dr. Martin urged consumers to do what is humanely possible to reduce costs.

“We help in the whole overall reduction and one of the things that the government did along with the Ministry of Finance, was to introduce certain concessions on materials, on equipment that is involved in the energy conservation regime.

He said his recent visit to Taiwan discussed the establishment of a company in St. Kitts and Nevis to manufacture solar panels.

“We now would be able to provide jobs for our citizens; it now will also provide us with the opportunity that we will also become a supplier in the renewable energy arena,” he said.

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