Lethem residents urge rethink of higher electricity tariffs

-rates covers only fuel, CEO says

Electricity tariffs for Lethem were recently increased by $20 and this has left residents disturbed and they want the rate revisited, resident Carl Parker says.

From this month, residents will have to pay $75 per kilowatt hour (kWh) having previously paid $55/kWh. Parker contended that the increase means that residents will now be paying the highest electricity tariff in Guyana. However, Stabroek News has been told that Mahdia residents pay approximately $100/kWh.

When contacted, Daniel Gajie, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Lethem Power Company (LPC), said that the tariff increase is due to the high production cost of electricity in the area. At $75/kWh, residents will only be paying for the cost of fuel to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity with additional factory expenses, human resource and other overheads being subsidized by the government, he said.

Parker, however, pointed out that residents and businesses are required to pay the same amount for electricity. “It is unfair, people who work as public servants and earn $43,000 per month should not have to pay the same cost like business people who earn $10 million a week,” he said. Prior to the increase in the electricity cost, residents were supposed to be consulted by the LPC and informed of the pending move but this was not done, he added.

Parker said that at an LPC board meeting, he was made to understand that the chairman of the board John Macedo, gave permission to Gajie to issue a notification letter to residents of the community. This letter, he said, informed him and other residents of the tariff increase and the future plans of the company.

Residents are calling for LPC and Prime Minister Samuel Hinds to revisit the increase, Parker said. He added that it will have serious consequences on consumers’ well-being and the money they will be forced to spend on electricity will not coincide with their earning power.

Gajie, however, said that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds approved the increase and he further pointed out that businesses will be required to pay a fixed charge ranging from $1000 to $2000 whether they consume electricity or not. Average residents who are not business owners on the other hand, will not be required to pay a fixed cost, he said.

The CEO also noted that there is a 15-kilowatt leeway available to all consumers in Lethem. This means that for the first 15 kilowatt hours consumed by all customers including businesses, no payment will be required. This allows for a reduced payment for electricity by consumers on a monthly basis. Gajie added that there are instances where at the end of the month, some residents (approximately 3 to 5%) do not pay anything on their electricity bill as they consume 15 kilowatt hour of electricity or less.

Lethem has been faced with chronic power problems and a new power station is under construction, with the engines currently in Georgetown.

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