50 years ago: Shedding light on district electricity charges

In the Sept. 14, 1966 edition of the Caymanian Weekly, a precursor of the Cayman Compass, Bodden Town correspondent Haig Bodden wrote:

“On Monday night, 5th of September, a public meeting was helNEW Bodden-50-years-logo-final-595x420d at the Town Hall Bodden Town. This evening was called by Messrs. Anton Bodden and Richard Arch, the MLAs for this district.

“In a speech that lasted two and one half-hours, Mr. Anton dealt with recent happenings in the House of Assembly. He debated a major act of the Executive Council, an act which is perhaps even more controversial than the Third Party Insurance Act.

“The Executive Council acting in conjunction with some technical assistance has set out and made into law regulations governing the inspection of premises to be supplied with electricity.

“It is impossible to go into the complicated schedule of rates, but the Application Blanks can be obtained free of charge from the Treasury Department. Every householder is urged to get these applications and study them as things are far worse than described by our learned representative.

“The schedule lists thirteen different charges that can be legally made on a person who applies to have his premises hooked up to a source of electrical supply. These individual charges range from 10 shillings to 400 shillings. A place with 10 ceiling outlets will cost anywhere from 5 pounds to 100 pounds. The charge for cooker and water heater inspections can be 15 shillings to 400 shillings per unit. The testing of meters will be only two guineas (42 shillings). The inspection report will only be three guineas (63 shillings) plus mileage charges.

“For settling matters in dispute affecting contracts on financial disagreements or other arbitration by personnel of the inspectorate, a charge of only one guinea (21 shillings) will be made. Technical services will cost only two guineas per hour.

“And, of course, it follows naturally that Bodden Town and other forgotten districts will have to pay an extra charge of 1 shilling per mile to cover the travelling expenses of the Inspector. Notice that this mileage is three hundred percent more that the 4 pence per mile generally paid out by Government to its itinerant employees.

“The acts of most legislative bodies have always been beyond the comprehension of the man on the street, but this latest act reaches far afield of the wildest dreams of an H.G. Wells novel.

“After perusal of the ‘Application for Electrical Inspection’ forms, the reader will come to the conclusion that the rock-bottom cost of the inspection to the consumer will be about 100 pounds and not a penny under 40 pounds. The average Caymanian does not have 40 shillings left over on Friday evenings when his or her grocery bill has been paid.

It is very necessary to have proper inspection of any place before it is hooked up to a source of supply of electricity. Why should it cost the consumer so much is a sixty four dollar question?”