SI still tops rank on ‘expensive power cost’ - Solomon Star News

SI still tops rank on ‘expensive power cost’

25 August 2014

ELECTRICITY cost in the Solomon Islands remains a most expensive commodity in the Pacific region and remains one of the highest in the world.

Data gathered from a report on cost comparison for Pacific power consumers showed Solomon Islands remains the most expensive in the region.

The report ranks countries by consumer prices across three categories: Small domestic consumer (60 kWh/mth 1.1kVA), domestic consumer (300 kWh/mth 3.3kVA) and business consumer (10,000 kWh/mth 100kVa).

As it is the second such report, it also relates the changes to last year's, not only to see where the countries rank against the others, but to see whether countries are catching up to or falling behind the rest of the Pacific islands.

It stated that sustainably reducing consumer electricity prices is not just a nicety; it can help to improve livelihoods, free up more resources for human development priorities and reduce the vulnerability of communities to swings in prices.

Business spending on electricity in Solomons is:

-          The highest in the region (excluding remote atoll Fangelop, which is a special case)

-          At least 4 times more than businesses spend in 1 other country

-          At least 3 times more than businesses in 4 other countries, including Fiji and New Caledonia

-          At least twice as much as businesses spend in 8 other countries, including PNG and Tonga

-          At least 50% more than businesses spend in 21 other regional countries

-          At least 21% more than the next most expensive country (Cook Islands) and all the other 25 regional countries

Malaita Ma’asina Forum (MMF) earlier this year urged the government’s state owned enterprise (SOE) Solomon Islands Electricity Authority (SIEA) to quickly review its tariff.

The call came amidst customer concerns over the company’s soaring electricity rates that affects both the business houses and individuals.

The forum said Solomon Islands has the highest rates of electricity in the region and amongst the highest in the world.

The high cost of electricity has hit hard not only on business houses but poor citizens who struggle to survive with the little they earn.

“The problem of power tampering or illegal connections is a clear indication of the unaffordable electricity cost facing the country. I therefore call on SIEA and the government to quickly address this,” MMF said.

Speaking in Brisbane, Australia last Friday during a business forum, Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo said in the government’s bid to bring down the cost of electricity and improve reliability, the country has supported two renewable energy projects: Tina River Hydro River Project and the Savo Geothermal Project with smaller ones are also in the pipeline for Auki and the other provinces.

“The time horizons for these projects are three to four years and when they do come into operation, we expect to see an improvement in reliability and reduced cost for electricity,” Mr Lilo said.