Electricity rate cut ‘premature’

Other items in “99-day” announcement yet to come 

Several items contained in the People’s Progressive Movement government’s “99-day message” – released after their first 99 days in office – appear to have been a bit premature to be counted in the accomplishments category, including an announced rate cut for Caribbean Utilities Company customers that was to take effect in September.  

It’s not that a rate reduction couldn’t still happen, it just hasn’t yet.  

Premier Alden McLaughlin announced Thursday in the Legislative Assembly that Grand Cayman electricity consumers will see a rate reduction, albeit a relatively small one, on their September Caribbean Utilities Company bills. Mr. McLaughlin said Cayman’s Electricity Regulatory Authority had won a dispute with CUC regarding the utility’s recent base rate increase.  

“The ERA expects there to be a credit applied to consumer bills in September and for the rate to be adjusted slightly downward, commencing in [the] September billings,” Premier McLaughlin said.  

According to Mr. McLaughlin, the authority succeeded in reaching a settlement with CUC to claim approximately US$950,000 with CUC insurers for additional fuel consumed due to “catastrophic failures” of power generators that occurred in 2011.  

“Proceeds will be credited back to consumers via the fuel charge, thus reducing the balance in the CUC fuel tracker amount,” Mr. McLaughlin said Thursday.  

Both items, according to ERA Managing Director Charlie Farrington, were announced “in error” and the new managing director took the blame for the mix-up.  

“The comments on both items, the base rate adjustment and the insurance proceeds were premature and are subject to ongoing discussions between the ERA and CUC,” Mr. Farrington said in a statement later in the day. “The confusion arose at the ERA where there was a mix-up in communications, resulting in the ERA providing the ministry with premature and inaccurate information. 

“The ERA regrets this error.”  

The ERA board had approved a rate base increase of 1.8 per cent, that took effect on June 1 for CUC customers. The increase meant the base rate went from $10.46 to $10.65 per kilowatt hour, increasing the average customer’s residential utility bill by half a percent each month.  

CUC officials Thursday said they were unaware of any rate cut taking effect.  

 

Other 99-day items.  

Also listed in the 99-day message, released at 99-days instead of government’s first 100 days in office so as not to coincide with the arrival of new Governor Helen Kilpatrick on Friday, were a number of proposed bills that have been in discussion within government for quite some time.  

The Progressives-led government promised to bring draft legislation enacting a National Conservation Bill to the Legislative Assembly before the end of this calendar year. The last draft of that legislation was proposed in 2010. The bill has been promised by successive governments over the past decade with little result.  

In addition, legislation seeking to create a Police Public Complaints Commission – a version of which was created in the Police Law 2010, but apparently was ignored – is proposed to come before the house this calendar year. The first law creating public standards legislation was also promised to be proposed before the end of 2013, more than three years after the Standards in Public Life Commission was created.  

The PPM 99-day message also speaks of the creation of a government policy guiding how concessions will be made in the future for import duties, stamp duties and land holding companies share transfer taxes. That policy, however, had not been approved by Cabinet at press time.  

Government also announced that it had ordered, but not yet received, three new garbage trucks to assist in collecting residential trash on a more timely basis.  

6-19 CUC Headquarters Photo

It’s not that a CUC rate cut couldn’t happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Taken together, CUC’s generation and distribution rates for residential customers are 5.6 times higher than rates charged by my US electric power company (Dominion Virginia). I’m sure most American expats receive quite a shock when they see their monthly CUC bill.

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