PHILIPSBURG – With the recent spikes (again) in electricity outages/load shedding and GEBE’s statements regarding same, such as regular maintenance, unexpected stoppages, safety concerns, overheating and such, Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams urgently requested Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Development, Environment and Infrastructure Christophe Emmanuel to answer the following questions:
- What do you think is the structural problem with respect to electricity supply on St. Maarten? Under normal circumstances, even unexpected and unforeseen outages would have been incorporated in capacity and/or demand projections to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply as much as possible.
- Is the problem an overall shortage of production capacity?
- If so, what is the short term remedy?
- Does GEBE possess the financial capacity to invest if this is indeed the underlying problem?
- If so, hope quickly will GEBE invest in the expansion of production capacity?
- How soon can the water supply contract be amended to stop the overpayment for water, currently in excess of $80,000?
- If none of the above is relevant to the outages and load shedding which is taking on unacceptable proportions, what is the problem with reliable electricity supply on St. Maarten?
In her letter to Minister Emmanuel, MP Wescot made reference to the Governing Program 2016-2020: “Stability for Prosperity,” where it states:
- Introduce alternative fuel for GEBE in order to reduce the cost of electricity and stabilize the fuel clause.
- Promote grid level storage of solar and wind energy;
- Promote through a public private partnerships the realization of a fuel farm.
- Stimulate and support clean, renewable and affordable.
- Review the management and distribution of drinking water, energy and water management infrastructure.
- Install solar-powered street lighting to reduce the energy consumed initiatives.
In a subsequent letter, Wescot also addressed GEBE’s electricity supply versus the demand for such, which has been under constant discussion lately again and many consumers are awaiting clarity regarding GEBE’s “buy back” from individual consumers any overage these consumers might generate through alternative forms of energy.
“Considering an initiative undertaken by the DP faction in Parliament in 2012, Minister Emmanuel was asked to inform if and what initiatives have been undertaken by government and or GEBE NV to address this matter of buy back/sale to GEBE,” she wrote.
The MP further queried: “Are there any existing stumbling blocks in the way of this development? What are these? Are they technical or legislative in nature? Is this a priority for government? If so, please provide a timeline of actions in connection herewith.”
In order to assess Government’s actions against its Governing Program, the MP in her letter to the Minister referred to the 2016-2020 Governing Program “Stability for Prosperity,” namely the stated initiatives:
- Implement the Energy Policy Plan
- Review and intensify the Energy Policy Plan
- Approve legislation for the Energy-Buy-Back policy
- Review and where necessary amend the electricity concession.