PM Hinds urges Lethem residents to pay increased electricity rates

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Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds
Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds

[www.inewsguyana.com] – Prime Minister Samuel Hinds is calling on residents of Lethem to keep their end of the bargain in meeting the recurring cost (operations and maintenance) for electricity since the Government has kept its part in providing a degree of electrification across the hinterland by putting in the capital requirements.

“The Government has been more than keeping its part of the bargain, and earnest, honest, responsible citizens of Lethem should be keeping their part of the bargain, no less” PM Hinds said in an open letter to Chairman and Board of Directors of Lethem Power Co. Inc. (LMPCI) and all customers of LMPCI.

According to the Prime Minister, Lethem has been getting more than it should and if it is maintained, there would be less money to provide an appropriate subsidy to other developing communities across our hinterland.

“Our hinterland electrification programme would be greatly slowed down; there has always been the questions before us as to whether we are not proceeding too rapidly,” he added.

He explained that electricity prices at Lethem were set, initially, to meet the operating costs of the Moco-Moco Hydro-power Plant, but since 2004, LMPCI’s demand has increased three-fold and generation has been solely based on diesel-fuelled generating-sets (gensets).

LMPCI has, thus, been experiencing more frequent and greater shortages of money.  At times, LMPCI’s electricity supply has been curtailed because LMPCI did not have enough money to meet its operational and maintenance needs.

Hinds said from early 2013, the very pressing need was evident that the prices, which were in place since 2007, needed to be reviewed.

“I travelled to the area on at least two occasions, and reviewed the situation at town meetings to which all were invited.  It was accepted that the pricing structure would need to be brought into accord with Government’s policy, but that there should be a stay in implementation until it was evident that plans were rolling to restore the 24×7 supply, by, in particular, the ordering of two new 750 kVa FG Wilson Generators at a total cost of about G$ 50 million.”

Hinds added that the generators were ordered, and are now in Lethem.  The Prime Minister’s letter followed a letter by Opposition Activist Carl Parker who had demanded increased subventions to Lethem.

According to Hinds, Parker “either has not taken time to learn the degree of support to customers in Lethem, or is being unconscionable,” adding that “if Lethem customers hold on to Mr. Parker, the Government would be greatly delayed in getting to 24×7 electricity supply in the center of villages like Annai-Aranaputa, Aishalton and Karasabai.  I can feel the growing desire for such in those villages.  Lethem customers would not be fair to their fellow citizens in those villages.”

Hinds warned that if there is no return to Government’s policy in Lethem, the electricity supply, at some point, would be limited by the subsidy, with the likelihood – as has occurred – of cutting back the hours of electricity.

“That would not be a situation under which to live, much less grow.  The continued growth of Lethem would be curtailed!  Electricity customers would be better off, coming into accord.  Mr. Parker, Sr., should be encouraging them to do so, as they promised.”

He said even as the administration engage in this debate, the Government is pursuing a number of possibilities to stay ahead of electricity demand in Lethem and the Rupununi, and is in talks with private investors and multi-lateral agencies about renewable energy.

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