APUA chairman sets the record straight

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Chairman of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Clarvis Joseph said, despite suggestions to the contrary from the Antigua Power Company (APC), APUA has several other expenses beyond the cost of electricity it pays them.

“We don’t pay workers. The 110 workers that work for Electricity Division don’t get paid; the substations don’t get paid for; the poles and the lines etc those don’t get paid for,” he said sarcastically. “I don’t know what kind of arithmetic that is.”

Joseph, speaking on OBSERVER Radio’s Snake Pit Saturday, said that in its press releases to the public, APC refused to consider the cost of getting electricity from their plant to the consumer.

A few weeks ago, an APC engineer charged that APUA pays about 20 cents per kilowatt hour to APC for electricity and an additional 30 cents per kilowatt hour to the West Indies Oil Company for the fuel that generates the electricity, but in turn charges the customer more than twice that amount, about $1.12 per kilowatt hour.

A release by APC in last Monday and Tuesday’s issues of The Daily OBSERVER asked rhetorically, “APCL gave about 16 per cent reduction in electricity price to APUA since 2009. Did the people of Antigua & Barbuda see a reduction in their electricity bills?”

Joseph did not dispute these figures but rather said that delivering electricity is more expensive than producing it.

“If you read what they have put out, that is their suggestion, that all the expense that APUA has is what we pay them,” Joseph said.

Since mid-October, when APC threatened to pull its supply of electrical power from the APUA grid because of APUA’s $37 million debt to the company, a war of words erupted between the two organisations through the media.

Meantime, Joseph said the construction of the Wadadli Power Plant in 2010 has reduced APUA’s payments to APC by tens of millions of dollars.

APUA still owes APC about $37 million with an interest rate of 12 per cent. APUA is currently seeking a commercial loan to pay off that debt in its entirety.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)