PHILIPSBURG – Government only uses utilities company GEBE as a cash cow to deal with its own budget woes; in doing this, Government has depleted the company of millions of dollars which could have been spent in buying new efficient engines and updating the country’s electrical and water infrastructure or at the least giving the consumers a reduction in tariff, says United People’s (UP) party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Theo Heyliger.
“It is completely unacceptable for the country, its people and businesses, to continuously be left in the dark from constant power outages,” said Heyliger on Sunday.
“GEBE has obligations set out in its concession of 2010 to the people of our country. Power cannot or should not be interrupted by no more than two times per month for no more than 120 minutes, that rule was for the whole country. The medical center, airport and Philipsburg should be no more than one time per month for no more than 60 minutes,” Heyliger said.
“Our electricity company continues to have major challenges in keeping up with the demand of our community,” he said. “This shows itself in the severe damage to people’s appliances. This cost residents and businesses heavily. It is time GEBE gives voltage regulators or surge protectors to costumers to protect their electrical equipment.”
GEBE must present, based on Article 6 of its concession, multi annual plans every five years showing the investments to be made and Article 14 states GEBE must have two per cent of its electricity generated by renewable energy by 2015. “That date has of course passed and now we are two years further and nothing has been done,” said Heyliger.
GEBE penalizes anyone who has renewable energy as the new meters no longer turn back. “Interesting is that on the north side of the island, renewable energy is incentivized and on the southern side penalized. Mind you, the same Government in its national energy policy of 2014 promotes the use of renewable energy and goes as far as wanting 80 per cent renewable by 2020,” he said.
Heyliger said it is time Government, based on the concession, instructs GEBE to allow the use of consumer renewable energy and allow the metres to at least run backwards. “In this day and age, this should be a priority as this Government tries to give the impression of being environmental by once in a while throwing plastic in a recycling bin,” he said.
The last update to the country’s electricity ordinance was done in 2010 by Heyliger in his tenure of commissioner. “Seven years later, nothing has changed nor has that ordinance even been carried out by Government,” said the UP leader.