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Sark again faces electricity switch-off, claims Chamber

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SARK residents are again facing the prospect of the power being switched off, the island’s Chamber of Commerce has said.

Sark's power station. (26480127)

Public meetings are taking place this week, one to present possible ways forward to a ‘green’ future, the other at which the price control commissioner will explain why he thinks the unit price should be slashed.

Sark Electricity has hiked prices to 85p per unit, but it is facing the prospect of the commissioner instructing it to charge just 53p per unit.

Chief Pleas had been in talks since last winter to buy the company, but no deal has been struck.

‘Residents once again find themselves, a year after Chief Pleas pledged to purchase SEL and safeguard the supply, facing the possibility of the power being turned off,’ Sark’s Chamber said.

‘The latest rise in the tariff by SEL bears no relation to the actual cost of generating electricity.

‘This latest increase is largely made up of costs incurred by SEL while defending its position and challenging the regulator’s determination for the price of a unit of electricity.

‘As a small and price-sensitive community, we cannot afford further unnecessary costs to solve this problem and Sark Chamber of Commerce would like to see the simplest, least-costly solution to this problem enacted.

‘Everyone would agree, however, that the relationship between SEL and Chief Pleas needs to be rebuilt before a sensible, win-win solution can be found.’

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Chamber argues that if there must be price regulation, then the regulator should be reporting to an independent ombudsman, not Chief Pleas.

The ombudsman would be responsible for the oversight and publish an annual report.

Chamber wants to allow for alternative generation.

‘SEL would have to accept a feed in tariff, set by the ombudsman, and would open its existing distribution network to new entrants.’

It said as a first step to green generation, the provision of a suitable battery bank that could take the place of diesel generation from midnight to 6am would considerably reduce SEL running costs.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann

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