LOWER ENERGY PRICES FROM MIDNIGHT WEDNESDAY

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Effective midnight tomorrow, Wednesday, December 20, Barbadians will benefit from yet another drop in the price of fuel as a result of government’s continued efforts to “keep the national energy prices at the lowest possible levels”.

This price cut was announced today by Energy Minister, Elizabeth Thompson, who said Cabinet had approved the six cents per litre or about 24 cents per gallon reduction in gas, 12 cents per litre or approximately 48 cents per gallon drop in diesel and five cents per litre or some 20 cents per gallon decrease in the kerosene price.

“Gasoline will retail for $2.15 per litre, or approximately $8.60 per gallon. Diesel will retail at $1.46 per litre, or approximately $5.84 per gallon. The retail price for kerosene will be $1.37 per litre, approximately $5.48 per gallon,” the Minister said.

Ms. Thompson anticipates that consumers should see a reduction in their electricity bills as a result of this cut in prices. “The fuel adjustment portion of a consumer’s electricity bill reflects increases and decreases in oil prices. This is based on a formula which was determined by the Fair Trading Commission. With this reduction in prices, the fuel adjustment component of your electricity bill will also decrease and electricity prices will become lower,” she said.

Minister Thompson noted that government had several initiatives on the drawing board for 2007 aimed at a further reduction in its expenditure on petroleum products. According to her, the public can play an integral  part in lowering energy costs by being more conservative in their use of non-renewable sources of energy.

“People can make small adjustments in their behaviour and the way they consume energy; and that can make the difference. A saving of 20 dollars a month works out at $240 a year that you can do something else with,” she said.

She noted that government would be creative in its approach to get more Barbadians to save energy in their day-to-day activities. Minister Thompson said a “carrot and stick“ approach would be pursued to achieve such behavioural change.

“Carrot in the sense of an incentive package, and they (incentive packages) have worked in the past; solar water heaters is an example … manufacturers have been given duty free concessions on the imports which go into manufacturing the product. Also, persons who installed the solar water heaters in their homes were given rebates off of their taxes. …what government intends to do is to develop similar packages, bearing in mind that you have a product which is at a different stage of development, to determine what package of incentive is needed at both levels for the manufacturer and the consumer.”

The Energy Minister gave an update of the status of Barbados’ National Energy Policy, which she said should be before Cabinet this week, for consideration. “I don’t want to preempt some of the initiatives in the policy, I want Cabinet to have the benefit of seeing the document. We expect the policy should be ready to be laid in Parliament early in February,” she said.

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