CUC defends ‘competitive’ rates with regional price survey

Cayman’s electricity provider CUC has pointed to a regional price survey by industry body, the Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), as evidence that its local prices are “competitive”.

CUC’s president and CEO, Richard Hew, said in a press release, “Although there may be the perception that CUC has the highest rates in the region due to Grand Cayman’s high level of household electricity consumption, this independent survey confirms that most islands with a similar number of customers do not have lower rates than CUC.”

Despite the high-price perception, CUC said, the average monthly bill for a customer consuming 800 kWh of electricity is US$251.33, which is 30% less than the average monthly bill for customers in similarly sized jurisdictions.

“The survey shows CUC as having the eighth-lowest cost for residential consumption of 800 kWh out of 17 participating regional utilities,” Hew said.

The majority of the utilities with lower rates than CUC are much larger or have subsidised fuel rates, he argued.

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Hew said large utilities were able to benefit from economies of scale which allow operating costs to be spread across a greater number of customers, and in some jurisdictions fuel costs were subsidised by the government to provide for lower-than-market rates.

Fuel costs, which include fuel duties, comprise approximately half of a CUC customer’s bill.

Fuel costs reached the lowest level in July and August of 2020 but have increased since then in line with the general cost of diesel.

The utility chief executive said the company had the fifth-highest renewable energy capacity connected to its grid of the 17 regional electricity providers surveyed.

CUC said it aims to have 25% of renewable energy on the grid by 2025.

The company added it continues to encourage customers to take steps to reduce their energy usage to lower their electricity bills.

CUC claimed that, according to the survey, it is one of the most reliable power providers in the region with customers having approximately three hours of outage duration time throughout the year.

CUC provided an anonymised chart showing the regional price comparison, but did not disclose any other survey details.

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