Dominica’s Independent Regulatory Commission (IRC) says the fuel surcharge that consumers of electricity have been paying from January to the present time has been increasing because of higher world oil market prices.
The commission’s Executive Director Lance McCaskey told a news conference on Thursday that a steady rise in fuel prices on the international market in recent times saw the price increase from EC$11.74 in January to EC$12.59 in April (2012).
According to McCaskey Dominica is highly dependent on fuel for its electricity generation (65 per cent comes from fossil fuel sources) and the increases in fuel prices have directly affected local electricity rates.
He indicated that the fuel surcharge escalation for the period January to April had moved from 40 cents per kilowatt hour in January to 53 cents by April.
McCaskey said the IRC was working closely with DOMLEC (Dominica Electricity Services) to see how they could minimize the fuel prices.
He said however that the trend of rising world market prices made this difficult.
The IRC official said the commission was working with the electricity company to effect savings and improve its generating efficiency.
Asked whether DOMLEC, which is boasting of having made $7.75 million after tax profits in 2011, couldn’t be made to subsidise the surcharge, McCaskey indicated that the company was already subsidizing the cost of fuel by 2.5 per cent.
And IRC Chairman Eluid Williams indicated that legislation would be required to get a greater subsidy from DOMLEC on the surcharge matter.
According to the IRC, Dominica is better off than some of its neighbors on the surcharge issue.
It says in April (2012) the fuel surcharge for St Vincent was 56.62 cents (EC), Grenada 67.84 cents, and Barbados 67 cents (EC).
Dominica’s 53 cents in April compares favorably with those figures, McCaskey told reporters.