Electricity bills will be going up from June this year as Caribbean Utilities Company increases its base rate for electricity charges.
CUC revealed in its first quarter financial report, released Thursday, 3 May, that it had submitted plans for a base rate increase of 0.7 per cent to the Electricity Regulatory Authority in March.
Customers can expect to see the base rate increase in the bills they receive in June. June’s bill will reflect consumption in April.
The base rate is currently 10.39 cents per kilowatt hour, the measurement of usage on which bills are calculated. According to CUC, the base rate has not changed since 2009 and remains lower than it did in 2002. The proposed base rate increase would bring it up to 10.46 cents per kilowatt hour.
The base rate is listed on customer’s bills as an “energy charge”.
Also going up is the facilities charge from a flat rate of $5.12 per bill to $5.16 on 1 June.
Bills also include a fuel charge, which fluctuates according to fuel prices. Its current rate is 22.78 cents per kilowatt hour. There is also a government fuel duty charge, which is 4.27 cents per kilowatt hour.
According to CUC, the change in the base rate will mean “minimal” increases in bills and cited an example of a household that uses 1,000 kilowatt hours a month seeing an increase from $336.82 on 1 May to $337.56 on 1 June. A commercial customer using 20,000 kilowatt hours would see its bill increase from $6,809.70 to $6,823.88, while a bill for a large commercial entity using 45,000 kilowatt hours in a month would go from $15,220.34 to $15,251.31.
Louis Boucher of the regulatory body said the figures submitted by CUC fell within what was allowed under CUC’s transmission and distribution licence.
Pat Bynoe-Clarke, corporate communications manager at CUC, said: “The process is that CUC submits the calculation to the ERA for verification. The ERA has confirmed that it has no objection with the calculation of 0.7 per cent.”
As of 31 March, 2012, CUC had 26,755 customers, an increase of 494 customers, or 2 per cent, compared with 31 March last year.
The base rate increase comes as CUC announced a drop in its profits for the first quarter of 2012. The company’s net earnings for the first three months of 2012 was $1.9 million, a decrease of 39 per cent or $1.2 million, compared with the first three months of 2011, according to its latest financial report.
There was a 1 per cent increase in kilowatt hour sales and lower maintenance costs were offset by an increase in general and administration, financing and depreciation costs for the first quarter of 2012 when compared to the first quarter 2011.
President and chief executive officer Richard Hew, said: “The first quarter is normally our weakest quarter of the year in terms of sales and earnings due to cooler weather. Earnings for the first quarter 2012 were further impacted by one-time restructuring costs but overall were in line with our expectations.”
The company’s electricity sales revenues increased by $0.1 million, or 1 per cent, to $15.9 million for the first quarter of 2012, from $15.8 million for the first quarter 2011, as a result of the 1 per cent kilowatt hour sales increase and 2 per cent customer number growth experienced quarter over quarter.