St Helena : St Helena: Electricity Tariffs
Submitted by Saint Helena Herald (Public Relations Information Office) 07.04.2012 (Article Archived on 12.05.2012)
During last week’s Legislative Council debate on this year’s Budget; mention was made of proposed increases in utility Tariffs that had been agreed earlier in March. Reference was made to an overall increase of 10%. However, this discussion did not go into the detail of the different parts of the Tariff that make up the overall increase. The Tariff (in Electricity) is made up of a number of elements.
During last week’s Legislative Council debate on this year’s Budget; mention was made of proposed increases in utility Tariffs that had been agreed earlier in March. Reference was made to an overall increase of 10%. However, this discussion did not go into the detail of the different parts of the Tariff that make up the overall increase. The Tariff (in Electricity) is made up of a number of elements. The first part is the Service Charge – a quarterly fixed charge that all subscribers have to pay. Even this charge varies, depending on the type of electricity supplied (one phase or three phase). The vast majority of residential properties use a single phase supply and the Service Charge has remained unchanged at £10 per quarter.
The second and subsequent parts of the Tariff relate to how much electricity is used. Users of the first 400 units pay one charge; users of the next 600 units (ie up to 1000 units in total) pay a different rate, and anything above 1000 units attracts a different rate again. So when reference is made to the Tariff, actually it is a fairly complicated range of costs depending on the type of service and the number of units consumed. It was the overall Tariff that had been kept to the 10% increase. Some parts had worked out with more of an increase and some had less of an increase. It has very recently been brought to the attention of Elected Members that in dealing with this complicated scenario, the increase for those units up to 400 seems to bear a disproportionate part of the increase. In simple terms the proposed increase from 17 ½ pence to a rounded up 20 pence is still part of the 10% overall Tariff increase. There was some concern that this unit charge is paid by all users, and in particular those residents who only used a small amount of electricity. This concern still exists even when taking into account the fact that the other part of the Tariff everybody pays (the Service Charge) had been kept fixed and had no increase.
This anomaly might be misunderstood as an attempt to generate a larger proportion of the increase from the lower paid, and Members agreed that this needs to be rectified. Fortunately this anomaly has come to light before any bills with the new rates had been issued, and there is still time to correct this. Members were still firmly of the view that there was overriding public support for keeping the electricity service charge at the same level as last year so, if the first 400 units are reduced in cost back down to nearer the overall 10% increase, then others must go up by slightly more than 10%. Executive Council are due to meet again next week to see if an alternative proposal can still meet budget expectations but remove the anomaly of a larger increase for the first 400 units.
Director of Infrastructure and Utilities
Saint Helena Government