Senate to approve islands electricity and water law

The First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament will approve the new Electricity and Drinking water Law for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as a formality next Tuesday.

The Senate has concluded the preparation of the law proposal which will regulate the production and distribution of electricity and drinking water on the three islands, as well as the tariffs.

It will also regulate new tasks, requirements and responsibilities for electricity and water companies. Furthermore, the law contains a subsidy arrangement to maintain affordable water and electricity prices for consumers. The Second Chamber already approved the law proposal in November last year.

The new law, once it has gone in effect, will improve the quality, dependability and affordability of the production and distribution of electricity and drinking water which will, in turn, contribute to the public health and the wellbeing on the islands.

An interesting aspect for residents will be that they can install solar panels on their roof or have a wind turbine for own use. Solar panels or wind turbines are not allowed in the current system. The surplus of energy generated by these solar panels and wind turbines that is re-distributed back into the electricity net will be financially compensated.

In response to written questions posed by the Senate’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations, Minister of Economic Affairs Henk Kamp stated that consumers will be informed about the new law, as well as the aspect of consumer protection and the termination of the prohibition to have solar panels or a wind turbine for own use.

According to Kamp, Statia and Saba will have to be assisted with the implementation of the new law. In Statia, Utility Company Stuco is the producer and distributer of both electricity and drinking water. In Saba, the Saba Electric Company is both the producer and distributer of electricity, while the production of drinking water is in the hands of two private companies, H.E.S. and AquaSab. Distribution takes place with water trucks.

The Consumer and Market Authority of the Netherlands ACM will take charge of tariff regulation in the new law. This means that the tariffs will no longer be determined by the distributer and its shareholder. The tariffs will have to be based on effi cient costs, including a reasonable output.

Minister Kamp anticipated that the tariffs will become more stable. He explained that many families live in poverty on the islands and spend a considerable part of their budget on electricity. On average, consumers in Saba spend US $1,225 on electricity per year, and in Statia US $1,620 annually.

The tariff regulation by the ACM aims to create a balance between the limitations of the costs for consumers, while a producer with an effi cient policy will be able to make a reasonable output, explained Kamp.

The Minister further announced that the fi rst solar park in Statia will become operational within the next few months. As a result, the share of sustainable generated electricity will go from zero per cent to 22 per cent. A second solar park will generate another 22 per cent.

In Saba, solar parks are also being planned which will generate about 40 per cent of the electricity production. According to Kamp, “substantial” savings will be realised with the installation of 25 to 30 per cent energysaving diesel generators at the new plant per February 2016.

The Daily Herald.

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