Each month for the past five years, someone in the new Government Administration Building has been receiving a bill from the Caribbean Utilities Company — in part to supply electricity to the old, vacant Government Administration Building — and has been paying those bills … amounting to between $180,000 to $240,000 per year.

Although the continuing expenditure on the abandoned Glass House, which has been identified as a candidate for demolition for 10 years, appears not to have raised any red flags within the civil service, to us it is the equivalent of waving a red cape in front of a bull. (Only, it is we the taxpayers who are the ones getting charged.)

More specifically, the $180,000 to $240,000 per year in CUC bills pays for electricity to three buildings: the empty Glass House, the George Town Police Station and the home of Radio Cayman.

Although we wish we could, we can’t get any more specific than that. You see, government doesn’t know how much electricity is going to each of the three buildings because they’re all on the same meter. Government facilities manager Troy Whorms said, “There are plans to separate the services in the future.

“The data to determine [the exact power bill for the Glass House] is not available today and will require further monitoring to determine the actual usage of each facility.”

When the Glass House was still in use, electric bills were about $660,000 per year. So at least we know the Glass House when empty is using less power than when it was full.

In some ways, the fact that the power is still on in the Glass House is less disheartening than the fact that government doesn’t know how much it’s paying to keep the (lights? air-conditioning?) electricity flowing to the vacant office building.

Mr. Whorms said that’s because the three buildings are all on the same meter. Considering that these are three separate structures, we fail to see the special engineering challenges involved in installing meters (or sub-meters) to track the usage of electricity in each building. That sort of set-up is the norm around Grand Cayman. Think about apartment complexes, shopping centers or single office buildings with separate companies — all of those have separate electrical meters, and separate bills for each tenant.

But in regard to the Glass House, lethargy and inaction have been government’s standing orders for the past decade. In July 2006 (after the Office of the Governor’s hasty self-eviction because of concerns about fire safety), then-Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said the Glass House would be demolished and the property underneath turned into a public park.

Although the last personnel moved from the Glass House to the new Government Administration Building in 2011, the anticipated demolition didn’t happen.

Last February, Premier Alden McLaughlin “re-announced” plans to get rid of the Glass House. It “will soon be demolished,” he said. Nope, not yet.

In September 2015, ministerial officials put the project out to tender, setting a start date for demolition of early October and completion date of January 2016.

Those dates have receded into history, but the Glass House remains.

On Tuesday, Mr. Tibbetts, who is now Minister of Planning, said, “Nothing … tells me that it is not better to knock that building down.”

Minister Tibbetts is right. He’s been right for 10 years. But there’s a difference between saying the right thing, and doing the right thing — which is to make the Glass House disappear, starting with its monthly utility bill.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. After I wrote my comment on this subject , I thought exactly what the Editorial is saying which I believe that is the facts , and that Mr Tibbetts didn’t know what he was saying about the true cost of electricity . I still think also that it’s some hanky Panky reasons why the three buildings are on one meter .
    I still think that this outreagous electric bill for these three buildings is something wrong with it .

    Again thank you Cayman Compass for exposing the waste these politicians are doing with taxpayers money .

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  2. Mr Tibbets needs to shake Mr McLaughlin off his back and do what he has to do. What is wrong with this clan that not one of them can make a simple decision, and yet they wonder why people are ready with pencils in hand to vote them out.

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  3. God Compass really? Must be a slow news week. At least do some sleuthing and see if the building is using electricity, if lights and air con or other appliances are on. As was pointed out yesterday it’s likely most of the circuit breakers were shut off and there might be legit reasons for having electricity connected for security or inspection purposes. While it would be ideal for all the building to be separately metered, it was done for many years before so no real point doing it now just to tear one down. You already point out the electrical costs for three buildings dropped by two thirds after the glass house was closed, so what’s the story? That there might be a nominal amount of energy being spent for possible questionable purpose? Seems like much ado about nothing.

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  4. I also think that if each building has it’s own meter you might also see a other two third drop again . Things are always easier to hide when they are all in one bundle .

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