Sark Electricity isn't putting its prices up this month, as its owner says progress is being made to resolve the ongoing dispute between the business and the island’s government.
Talks have now begun between SEL, Chief Pleas and Guernsey Electricity, with suggestions the latter could buy Sark Electricity.
For now though, the Guernsey utility will act as an “honest broker” and arrange a proper valuation of SEL – something Chief Pleas have wanted to do for some time.
The issue of valuation has been the main roadblock to progress being made towards a buyout of Sark’s electricity supplier. At the end of last year, a deal struck at the final hour to stop the power being shut off that was supposed to see Sark’s government buy out the business. They say that hasn’t happened because they couldn’t do a valuation, so GEL’s involvement could see progress made.
Pictured: Guernsey Electricity was given permission to get involved in the Sark talks. Alan Bates, GEL CEO.
In his latest letter to customers, SEL’s Director, David Gordon-Brown said: “The Wednesday meeting in Guernsey seems to have been quite successful and Guernsey is now considering letting GEL act as an honest broker to arrange the valuation of the company.
“As the Conseillers that committed to pursue the Bailiwick option have kept to their word and begun this process, we are hopeful that we will now be able to avoid the legal costs escalating any further. Because of this, we have decided to make a gesture of good faith by holding the price increase for another month.”
Last week, a meeting was held in Sark to try and head off a similar crisis to that seen in 2018, and also to come up with solutions to the current problems. While many of the island’s residents were disappointed with the meeting, there was a clear favourite idea – to ask GEL to pursue a purchase of the business.
Pictured: David Gordon-Brown.
Mr Gordon-Brown said: “Not only would the Bailiwick option put the company in the hands of experienced, competent people, it also would provide regulation under Guernsey’s current regulation laws which would not cost the consumers nearly as much as they were put in place in Guernsey after they experienced that same problem of excessive costs when they had a similar regulation law to ours.
“With this in mind, we created an arrangement with the pro-Bailiwick Conseillers in order to allow us to hold down the price while they pursued asking Guernsey for help and the valuation was completed. This was then put on the agenda for the regular quarterly meeting of P&F with the States of Guernsey on Wednesday and Guernsey Electricity (GEL) was invited to the meeting to discuss it.”
If Mr Gordon-Brown does end up putting his prices up, it's believed the island will then have the highest power prices in the world. Chief Pleas’ Price Control Commissioner has already suggested he might put in place a legally enforceable cap to prevent this from happening, but that would create similar circumstances to 2018, when Mr Gordon-Brown threatened to pull the plug on Sark entirely.
Pictured top: Sark Electricity Limited's power station on Sark.
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