Antigua St John's - Eyebrows were raised at the recent figures showing up in the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) production summary report of March 2012, in which it was revealed that while the utility company charges $1.17 per kilowatt hour in Antigua, it charges less more than 50 percent ($0.53) in Barbuda.
Caribarena.com's investigations into the matter revealed that the utility company continues to “heavily subsidize” the sister island through an agreement made more than a decade ago.
Former Government Minister responsible for APUA, Robin Yearwood, explained that it was under the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) that the sister island was granted subsidy. But this was done with the understanding that the situation would be levelled in a phased manner.
“Since in our time we have been subsidizing the Barbuda power plant. Barbuda's electricity is highly subsidized by APUA,” Yearwood said.
He noted that when the agreement was made, households in Barbuda used to “pay by bulbs” for electricity since there was no electricity-reading meters installed at the time.
Caribarena.com spoke with Barbuda Councilman Fabian Jones, who said he had no knowledge of the agreement, or why Barbuda paid so much less for electricity than Antigua.
He said, “There has never been any discussion” on the subject since he has been on the Council.
“I am not aware if there is a written agreement. I don't even check my bill to see what the charges are,” Jones said.
He went on to note that he had heard of the agreement in passing, but had never seen an actual document.
“I have heard something like there is a difference in what Barbudans pay compared to Antigua,” Jones said, “but it was never discussed.”
He said the last time the Barbuda Council had any discussion with the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, Peter Benjamin was still the general manager.
As far as he understood, Barbuda was supposed to be paying a mere $0.05 less than Antigua for electricity.
“There was never a meeting since the new government took over,” Nibbs said.
He added, however, that based on his understanding of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer's intentions, Barbuda could soon take control over its utility affairs through the Council.
Nibbs said that from all indications, the prime minister should soon be moving to transfer the management and control of the APUA-owned power plant in Barbuda to the Barbuda Council.
Caribarena.com attempted to reach APUA Chairman Clarvis Joseph, as well as the Authority’s PRO, Cathrona Samuel, for a comment on the matter, but was unsuccessful.
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