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Sark electricity row deepens as crisis moves closer

Sark electricity row deepens as crisis moves closer

Sunday 06 September 2020

Sark electricity row deepens as crisis moves closer

Initial assessments suggest it will cost four to six months to reconnect 19 households to the mains power supply, if Sark Electricity is forced to remove all its equipment from a tenement today.

Sark's Court has approved La Tour land owner Sebastien Moerman's request to have SEL remove its equipment from his tenement – disconnecting 19 homes from the island's grid in the process.

SEL Director Alan Jackson said that he has been “left with no option” but to honour the request, blaming Sark’s Policy & Finance Committee for failing to draft legislation that would have prevented this kind of situation from happening, despite being directed to do so by Chief Pleas. 

A messy public spat has unfolded in recent days, with Mr Jackson saying P&F and other members of Sark Government's "powerful few" have let down islanders by "portraying Mr Moerman and I as enemies" when the Government Committee is the one to blame. 

Meanwhile, the Sark Electricity Price Control Commissioner Dr Anthony White has spoken out against Mr Jackson’s actions, saying it is him who has "taken the decision" to disconnect residents from the grid. 

Pictured: Mr Jackson's original letter to residents, telling them that 19 homes would have to be disconnected from the mains power supply.

"To try to mitigate the situation for all involved, I have suggested potential solutions which SEL has chosen not to explore," said Dr White. "As a result, some people may be disconnected from the SEL system. This situation is, in my view, unnecessary and avoidable"

Mr Jackson hit back, saying the Commissioner was "hopelessly conflicted."

"Your pay masters may wish it, but do not attempt to lay the responsibility for this failure of the Executive at the door of Sark Electricity. I simply will not allow it. The people of Sark are not playthings to be used and manipulated to achieve personal agendas and accede to the vested interests of a powerful few within Sark's Government."

The Policy & Finance Committee, together with the Medical & Emergency Committee, have also responded to the issue. 

“The proposed action to disconnect the electricity supply to nineteen households has the potential to place resident’s health at risk due to the dependency of electric on water supplies, cooking, heating and lighting,” said a spokesperson for the two committees. sark electricity

Pictured: Sark is facing yet another electricity crisis, less than two years since the previous owner threatened to turn off energy supply due to a long-running dispute with Sark's Government and the Prices Control Commissioner.

The spokesperson continued: “The Medical and Emergency Committee have a robust contingency plan in place and are ready to implement this should it prove necessary. We understand that an amicable agreement is still achievable, and strongly recommend that both parties engage to resolve this situation without delay.”

Mr Jackson is looking at importing Diesel generators to support the homes that will be shut off.

His initial estimate is that the cost of bringing 17 of the 19 affected customers back on the grid will be around £100,000 and that the works will take four to six months

It is believed to be impossible to reconnect two of the properties without having cables on Mr Moerman's land. 

Click HERE to read more about the dispute.

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