Little Sark could be without electricity within two weeks
LITTLE SARK could be left without power within two weeks if Chief Pleas does not grant permission for a new cable to be installed, the owner of Sark Electricity has said.
There are around a dozen homes on Sark's southern end, as well as the La Sablonnerie Hotel and restaurant.
SEL owner Alan Witney-Price has been seeking permission to complete remedial works across the Coupee for almost two years, but said he had repeatedly been told that securing legal rights was not necessary, which he said was a ‘complete mystery’ to him.
In an open letter to Chief Secretary Zannette Bougourd, Mr Witney-Price said it highlighted a significant 'naivety' that SEL had come to expect from Policy & Finance and the Price Commissioner.
The grid is said to have ‘no security of location’ and is in significant need of replacement in some areas.
‘When I bought the company back in March 2020 this was at the top of our priority list,’ he said.
In June last year, P&F said it intended to seize the electricity company by force if necessary. Mr Witney-Price proposed that key works, such as the Coupee cable, progressed while negotiations took place, but the request was ignored by P&F.
‘Chief Pleas are trying to undermine the value of the company so they can buy it – I am being coerced,' he claimed.
Within months of purchasing the company, Mr Witney-Price found that a landowner had installed an off-grid solution and wanted all SEL equipment removed from his land with intention to sell electricity to his neighbours.
Some 19 residents were therefore removed from the grid and remain on temporary supply model managed by Chief Pleas.
‘We are a regulated entity forced to operate a grid that we all agree needs upgrading but they are refusing to allow us to do it. It is just insane.
‘They say it needs to be replaced, but that we can’t replace it.’
He said that SEL would be left with no choice but to disconnect the cable by 7 July if necessary permissions are not granted.
‘As director, if there is an accident, and I don’t think there is an imminent risk of death, but I can’t deny there is an inherent risk there.
'I’m operating a grid, not selling cucumbers – this is life and death,’ he said.
Mr Witney-Price said he had tried to propose renewable energy for the island in a bid to hold back tariff increases, but claimed he had been ignored.
Chief Pleas was unable to provide a comment yesterday.