Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 18, 2016 (SKNIS): Officials from the St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited (SKELEC) said the company is meeting its obligations of providing reliable and responsible service to the public, but that it needs consumers to fulfill their responsibility in paying their bills in order for the company to maintain and enhance its operations.
Giving its status as a private company, SKELEC does not receive support from the central Government in Basseterre, which is the sole shareholder. And with high operational costs, including a more than EC$4 million dollar fuel bill per month, Pearl Williams, the company’s Financial Manager, said the company does function in the red. While appearing on this week’s edition of “Working for You” she said consumers must do their part by paying their bills on time and in full.
“Our major source of revenue is the electricity that we sell to our customers, so we expect to be paid,” she said, noting that some persons and businesses often see other bills or other financial obligations as a priority. This usually means that the electricity bill often goes unpaid, for several months in some cases.
Unpaid accounts are subject to disconnection and as of late, persons have had their power cut.
“We have started disconnections,” Ms. Williams said. “Disconnection is never the first collection choice because as a business … what we want is to generate electricity, provide electricity as a service to our customers, but at the end of the day we have to get paid.”
Staff at the office often reaches out several times to customers to remind them that there is a balance to be paid before disconnection takes place. Additionally, payment plans are offered to assist customers to manage their outstanding balances.
Sanshé Thompson, SKELEC’s Customer Service Manager, explained that the payment plan is called the Deferred Payment Arrangement (DPA). She said consumers are asked to make an initial payment on the arrears of their bill and a time span for repayment, mutual to both parties, is agreed upon. Once complete, the new bills will reflect the month’s charges and the installment due for the arrears.
In recent times, there have been reforms to the company’s electronic business/online payment portal. The website was upgraded to include new interactive features, including a section to download forms; smart meters were introduced and the customer service and bill payment areas were redesigned – which staff has said contributes to improved efficiency and better morale.
“There are many things that we want to do,” Ms. Williams stated, promising there is much more to come.
SKELEC’s Public Relations Officer, Gawain Fraites, said in order to continue the improvement projects consumers must meet their obligations to the company which in turn will pass the benefits back to the consumers with greater reliability and more efficient service.