Editorial for 19 October: CUC bills are indeed high

Complaining about high electricity bills in
the Cayman Islands is kind of like whining about the weather – fuss all you
want, but nothing is going to be done by anyone except the consumer.

We have had many comments at
www.caycompass.com on the two latest articles about Caribbean Utilities Company
and high power bills. In the first article Premier McKeeva Bush said the
Government is not at fault for power bills and he threatened to bring an
outside audit firm to see “what the true cost is and where the cost comes
from”. But CUC volleyed back releasing figures that show that consumers in the
Cayman Islands pay the highest fuel duty in the Caribbean region. Government
last year raised the import duty on fuel to 25-cents a gallon.

But according to CUC, the largest amount of
money we’re paying for power comes from the fuel itself.

One loyal CayCompass website reader has
been keeping up with the cost of kilowatt hours paid to CUC for the last six
years: “August 2006, 27.8-cents; August 2007, 25.9; August 2008, 31.3; August
2009 24.0; August 2010, 27.6; August 2011 35.1 creating a 27 per cent increase
on the previous year and 46 per cent higher than in 2009”.

We applaud CUC for showing us exactly where
our CUC bill dollars are going: 43-cents for fuel and oil; 1-cent for licence
and regulatory fees; 12-cents for duty to Government; 10-cents for labour and
materials; 1-cent for insurance; 13-cents for loans and loan interest; 11-cents
for capital expenditures; and 9-cents for dividends.

As consumers we have to be honest with
ourselves. Government has to generate money, and unlike most governments the
world over, ours does not impose direct taxation. Would you rather pay a higher
electricity bill – something you can have a modicum of control over – or pay
property or value added taxes on goods and services? Most would prefer not to
have the taxation word mentioned on our shores. We hope that CUC’s response is
good enough and that the extra expense of hiring outside auditors isn’t needed.

As for consumers, there are measures we can
take to reduce our electricity consumption. CUC has some excellent ideas on its
website and at its offices.