Guernsey Electricity would help Sark if States asked
GUERNSEY ELECTRICITY would step in to help people in Sark, if the States of Guernsey asked it to.
There is growing tension in the smaller island over its power supply, with residents threatening not to pay the full price being demanded by Sark Electricity.
The utility is locked in a dispute about the price of power, with the price control commissioner threatening to cut it to a level which the company says will bankrupt it.
Sark Electricity’s David Gordon-Brown has described a recent meeting with Sark residents as very positive, which was at odds with the view of the island’s electricity user group.
He also made reference to the support shown by Sark’s residents to a Guernsey Electricity purchase of SEL, thereby running it as part of its network.
Mr Gordon-Brown called for Chief Pleas to promote this idea in Guernsey.
Guernsey Electricity chief executive officer Alan Bates said he was aware of the situation in Sark and understood that discussions between all the interested parties were continuing.
‘If the assistance of Guernsey Electricity is required, we will work with the States of Guernsey to ensure that assistance is provided as quickly as practicably possible,’ he said.
Sark Electricity User Group has described last week’s public meeting over the future of the island’s power generation as farcical. The utility’s director and meeting organiser appeared at the meeting by a pre-recorded video link.
Founding member of the user group Victoria Stamps said the meeting did not progress the island towards a solution.
‘It was a farce,’ she said.
‘You could hear the sounds of incredulity amongst the residents in attendance. The video via which Mr Gordon-Brown appeared, well, you can’t believe it until you see it.
‘He tries to present his position, but it flies completely in the face of the price that has been set and everything the commissioner has said – nobody could believe it.
‘He tried to put blame on the commissioner at every turn and continues to say that he is a private company and that is why he will not reveal his books.’
Mr Gordon-Brown was represented at the meeting by his daughter.
‘I felt so sorry for his daughter,’ continued Mrs Stamps. ‘She was very positive and I had to warn her she was about to walk into the lion’s den.
‘She knew what she wanted to get out of the meeting and she appeared to want to build bridges whereas her father appears to want to do anything but. It was a very frustrating meeting to be at.’
Sark Electricity has hiked the price to 85p per unit, but the commissioner wants it to charge just 53p per unit.
Residents fear that there will be further increases, upwards of 20%, being introduced in the near future.
Stocks Hotel has said it will use renewables, which will reduce the consumption on island by about 20%. According to Mrs Stamps, it is the first in a number of larger consumers who are planning to go off-grid.
Around 100 residents have said they will not pay 85p per unit.
‘While most of us are going to pay the extra 15p to take us up to 66p, we are not going to pay the further 19p on top of that,’ said Mrs Stamps,
‘Those on prepaid meters do not have a choice. A lot of people who are on prepaid meters are on them because they have a lower income or need to be able to manage their consumption better.’