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“Light bill” skyrockets in Lethem

Residents and businesses in Lethem will now have to pay more for electricity from January 2014 as the company copes with spiralling operational costs and pushes ahead with plans to triple power supply, several residents said.

Several residents said they received letters from the LPC accompanying their December “light bills” stating that the cost of electricity has gone up to GUY$75 per kilowatt hour.

The Head of the Lethem Power Company (LPC), Daniel Gajie could not be reached for comment.  But in a copy of the letter seen by Demerara Waves, the power company’s management sought to justify the increased tariff by outlining plans to build a new power station that would see the supply tripling to 1.5 megawatts, “more than what is currently in demand.”

LPC said the Guyana government has already purchased two 750 KVA generators that are in Georgetown waiting to be shipped to the township. The power company explained that the new power station, when completed, would accommodate six generators.

The increase has come at a time when residents hope that the quality of electricity being supplied by LPC would continue to improve. A number of residents complained that currently they are experiencing periods of blackout due to a fuel shortage. For the LPC’s part, the number of hours of electricity supply has increased during the past five months. “This was possible through bold decisions and deliberate actions but this improvement did not come without the company incurring additional costs and debts,” said the power company in its letter.

LPC said that already it has had to ask government for more money in 2014 because of a significant increase in fuel consumption by the generators. “The company spent over 50 percent more on fuel, spares and employment costs as the generating equipment required a shorter time span for routine maintenance,” said LPC.

Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who has responsibility for the electricity sector, had last year May alerted residents that electricity tariffs would have been increased.

Electricity rates in the township near the Guyana-Brazil border have not increased since 2008 although the costs of spares and fuel have been rising.

Government has said that it subsidises the approximately 1,000 residents to the tune of GUY$18 million per year and gives a grant of GUY$105 million to the power company for its operations. About 80% of the grant package is spent on fuel alone.

Plans are on the drawing board to buy new generators and build a new power plant to satisfy the increasing demand by commercial and residential customers.