The average Cayman Islands household’s electricity bill is projected, by May, to fall nearly $100 per month compared to September 2014, when local petrol prices peaked, Premier Alden McLaughlin said Wednesday.
The premier attributed that drop, in part, to his Progressives-led government’s decision to reduce import duties on diesel fuel used by Caribbean Utilities Company. The reduction, which took effect last July, took the duty rate from 75 cents per gallon to 50 cents per gallon.
“Next month, consumers should be able to compare their September 2014 electricity bills, when the average household’s electricity bill was approximately $350.70, to their May  bill, when the average household’s CUC bill is projected to be about $256.70,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
Businesses would also benefit from the reduction, Mr. McLaughlin said.
Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush inferred, in questioning Mr. McLaughlin about the electric bills, that the premier was basically taking credit for the worldwide drop in petroleum prices since last fall.
During his statement to the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday about CUC bills, Mr. McLaughlin noted that the government’s duty reduction was responsible for about $15 worth of the reduction.
“Had there been no duty reduction, the average residential bill for May 2015 is projected at approximately $271.50,” the premier said.
Mr. Bush has urged government previously, and did so again Wednesday, to use its savings from the CUC diesel duty rate reduction to significantly reduce electric bills for lower-income Caymanian households.
The opposition leader noted last year in a private members’ motion filed in the House that the reduction in diesel duty otherwise had to be significant enough to encourage a real reduction for utility customers.
“Reducing $6 million or $7 million [on CUC’s import bill] would only [save] about $20 per household,” Mr. Bush said. “This is negligible.”
While the import duty and the reduction in petrol prices worldwide have led to lower consumer bills, Mr. McLaughlin said records had shown no change in CUC’s base price for electricity, which makes up about one-third of the charge on electric bills.
“There are measures [consumers] can take in their own homes and businesses to help further reduce the cost of power,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Simple things such as unplugging chargers for electronic devices when not in use, raising your air conditioning thermostat by one degree, unplugging your water heater when not in use … can go a long way in reducing your power consumption.”