Residents of Lethem and neighbouring communities have agreed to pay increased costs for electricity beginning July 1, following a meeting with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds.
This agreement follows a long dispute on the issue, after residents had initially rejected a hike in the cost of the electricity they were receiving and had even sent a petition to Parliament.
The increase in power supply cost will see consumers receiving the first 15 kWh of electricity free and paying $60 per unit of power for between 16 kWh and 50 kWh and $100 per unit for anything over 50 kWh.
Lethem and the neighbouring areas which are supplied with electricity through the Lethem Power Company Inc (LPCI) have also been plagued with outages for years, mostly as a result of problems with the power company’s equipment.
The PM related to this newspaper yesterday that the LPCI was not able to cover its operational costs with the monies received from residents for electricity supply despite the fact that LMPCI is in receipt of a subvention from the government.
Chairman of LMPCI John Macedo said Prime Minister Hinds visited Lethem on Thursday last and held a meeting with the board of Directors of the power company, and other stakeholders in the region including members of the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce (RCC) and Regional Chairman Wilson Laurentino. The finances of the power company were discussed and Hinds enlightened the attendees of the urgent need for the electricity cost to be increased.
A meeting was held at the Arapaima School on Friday afternoon and a large number of residents in the community attended, according to Macedo.
He said the PM explained to residents the need for the increase and of the hundreds of residents in attendance, only one person objected to the increase.
One resident told this newspaper that he does not mind paying the increase providing he gets a 24-hour supply of electricity.
“We just want electricity. We have been having electricity problems for a long time and I personally don’t consume much power so I don’t mind paying the increase,” another resident said.
Macedo said at the meeting residents expressed concerns over having an adequate supply of electricity meters and added that this will be dealt with by the power company.
Macedo said he did not believe the new increase was unreasonable because residents who consider themselves to be poor but have a television and a refrigerator can afford to operate these two appliances at 50 to 70 kWh per month. Macedo further explained that any resident with additional appliances, such as a washing machine, will not be considered poor.
On January 16, a petition was taken to the National Assembly by Member of Parliament Sydney Allicock to have the increase to $75 per kWh be rescinded after residents objected to it. Some 305 residents had signed the petition.
However, in February it was agreed between the residents and LMPCI that the first 15 kilowatt hours (Kwh) of electricity will remain free for residential and commercial consumers. For residential consumers, from 16 – 45 kWh, the rate will be $55 per kWh and from 46 kWh and above, the cost will be $60 per kWh.
For commercial consumers, from 16 to 100 kWh, the rate will be $55 per kWh; from 101- 200 kWh, $60 per kWh; from 201 – 400, $70 per kWh and for over 400 units consumed, $75 per kWh.