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VINLEC reports hike in fuel Surcharge

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Customers of St.Vincent Electricity Services Ltd. (VINLEC) should brace themselves for a whopping increase on their electricity bills this month due to a substantial hike in the Fuel Surcharge for the month of April.

And it is expected that the situation is unlikely to change in the upcoming months as the dry season drags on.{{more}}

Thornley Myers, Chief Executive Officer of VINLEC on Thursday, April 20, explained that for a number of reasons, VINLEC has been forced to put an additional 8.6 cents on the previous month’s Fuel Surcharge.

He noted that during the past three months, the low rainfall has taken a toll on electricity output from VINLEC’s hydro-electric plants. These plants, which at peak produce about 30 per cent of the country’s electricity, are at a standstill and have recently not been producing “even a kilowatt of energy”. The plants at peak capacity are capable of producing up to 5.6 megawatts of power.

Myers said the water shortage, coinciding with the increase of the price of fuel on the World Market has propelled VINLEC to hike the Fuel Surcharge.

Disclosing VINLEC’s Fuel Surcharge rates over the past months, Myers said in November 2005 the Fuel Surcharge stood at 34.4 cents, December – 31.12 cents, January 2006 – 30.33 cents, February – 30.16 cents, March – 28.52 cents and this month, with the dry season at its peak – 37.12 cents.

“It is important and incumbent on us to inform our customers of what the situation is…essentially we are seeing an increase in fuel cost, we are seeing an increase in Fuel Surcharge and I’ll say here that none of us know where this is going,” said Myers, adding that VINLEC is concerned about the current situation as it has implications for domestic customers, the commercial and industrial sector.

“An increase in cost of electricity is an increase in production cost, is an increase in the cost of services that commercial customers provide to their customers,” said Myers.

Customers were told that all is not lost as they can use the weapon of conservation to lower their electricity bills. The CEO noted that consumers have a responsibility to conserve and to ensure that they pay not only as little as possible, but also to ensure that the utility company continues to supply reliably to its customers.

Steve Wyllie, Customer Service Manager, said though the Fuel Surcharge reached a record level during the month of April, the basic electricity price had not changed since 1989.

Wyllie appealed to Vincentians to control their operations and to conserve.

Consumers were however lauded for heeding Vinlec’s conservation messages. This was demonstrated by a drop in the average Domestic Consumption from 138 units to 132 units.

The Customer Services Manager believes that while the Fuel Surcharge has been mounting, the rate in this country remains competitive with that of other neighbouring islands.

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