Electricity rates to increase

Electricity users will see a 2.4 per cent increase in their June bills, following an increase of the base rate of power charges by the Caribbean Utility Company.

“There will be a 2.4 percent average increase on base rates. This increase will take effect on June 1, 2009, and it will be reflected on bills rendered in June,” a press statement released by CUC on Friday, 1 May, said.

The company said it had not increased its base rates in seven years, since August 2002, but needed to increase the rates now to remain economically viable.

“CUC has to be able to continue to make investments in equipment and maintenance and offer a fair return to shareholders and bondholders who finance the company’s growth at rates reflecting that return,” the statement said.

The utility company said it had invested $258.8 million in transmission and distribution as well as generation equipment, including new generators, substations, poles and transformers.

Over the past seven years, CUC’s annual operating expenses increased from $67.6 million in 2002 to CI$135.1 million at the end of 2008, the company said..

The rate increase was scheduled under the conditions of the utility company’s transmission and distribution licence, signed last year. The calculations on which the rate increase are based must be verified by the ERA, which said on Friday it was considering the submission.

The increase will mean an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month with a bill of $195 will pay an extra $2.44 a month, according to CUC.