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Tariffs redesign would help customers reduce costs

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CHANGES to tariffs are among Guernsey Electricity’s short-term goals for the future.

Chief executive of Guernsey Electricity Alan Bates. (27831380)

CEO Alan Bates said that the company’s different tariffs, such as Economy 12, were brought in the 1990s and it was time they were modified.

‘Our tariffs today don’t tell you how much the service costs, for example the cost of connecting to the grid and using electricity versus how much a kilowatt-hour actually costs,’ he said.

The plan was to look at them in a more ‘holistic’ way and offer something more flexible in terms of tariff structure.

GE can buy electricity cheaper at weekends, so one tariff might highlight people using electricity at a lower rate then.

‘I’m very keen to redesign these to give everyone the opportunity to reduce costs,’ he said.

‘We were due to come out later this year with a way to rebalance [the tariffs] but now this virus outbreak has somewhat delayed that.’

Another goal is to change the heavy fuel oil used to keep the power station running – when needed – to a low sulphur fuel oil.

This will take a while to roll out, said Mr Bates, but work has already begun on the programme.

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Its major project is the long-term one of a direct cable link from Guernsey to France. Once in place it will see the power station becoming a much more short-term power supplier for the island, said Mr Bates.

The station would be kept in reserve only for short power outages.

‘At the moment, it’s designed to cover three to six months.

‘When you have two inter-connectors you’re planning for a short-term interruption on the French grid, which can be minutes or hours.’

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Guernsey Electricity: A reliable service, good value and doing what is right for the climate

TRUST, security and mitigating climate change are three of the key goals that Guernsey Electricity is striving for, said its CEO.

Alan Bates’ comments followed the publication of the States’ energy policy, which sets out the government’s objectives for the next three decades.

The policy sets out its goals as decarbonisation; security and resilience of supply; consumer value and choice; equity and fairness; supporting a vibrant economy; and greater energy independence.

Mr Bates said GE was working on the principle that consumers want to trust the company to supply power, provide a reliable service, good value and do what is right for the climate.

‘That’s what we are trying to achieve with this strategy,’ he said.

‘It’s a two-way thing, though. It has to be done with the customer.’

The utility has been involved with the preparation of the policy for the last couple of years, he said. ‘It’s been a good consultation because it’s such a fast moving technology market and economic market for energy. The plan could be out of date the moment you write it. The key is that we want to keep developing this and be very adaptable and agile in making sure we do the right thing for the island as a community.’

While the policy sets out 2050 as a target for the reduction of CO2 emissions, Mr Bates said it could be done sooner: ‘But I’ve been very open to saying that it would be a very expensive journey,’ he said.

The target was a pragmatic one.

Renewables are set to play a big part in any reduction in carbon emissions, but with supplies such as solar and wind power, storage was the key issue: ‘It’s energy storage that’s going to be the game changer,’ said Mr Bates.

Although focusing on solar, GE has looked at wind power with the States’ Renewable Energy Team: ‘We were looking at a 30 megawatt offshore wind farm,’ said Mr Bates.

While the aesthetics of having turbines in the sea was a key issue, he said that if they were placed 5km offshore, ‘you wouldn’t be able to see them that much’.

People using solar power – ‘micro-renewables’ – are offered a buy-back rate by GE for when they have generated too much.

There are still relatively few of these, but there has been an increase. ‘We’re not opposed to micro-renewables, we think it’s a better solution for Guernsey, but small scale doesn’t really pay for itself.’

‘One of the things the policy is very clear on is it’s very targeted on an outcome and it’s set to create some local renewable generation.’

GE has already installed solar panels at its own premises and at Guernsey Post’s headquarters and he said that it is now looking at installing some at the King George V playing fields, the Longue Hougue waste facility, and at the PEH.

‘Our model is a community model. When we invest, we invest for the island so everyone benefits from local renewables.’

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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