Pringle condemns APUA’s reintroduction of fluctuating fuel-variation charges and asks what happened to solar and wind farms

Jamale Pringle, political leader of the United Progressive Party, is asking Prime
Minister Gaston Browne what has become of his Administration’s plans for
alternative sources of energy – specifically the two solar farms constructed in
Antigua and one on Barbuda and the wind farm just outside the cricket

Pringle’s question comes in response to the Government’s decision to
reintroduce the fluctuating fuel-variation charge on electricity as of July 1.
Pringle, the leader of the parliamentary Opposition, recalls that millions of
dollars were invested in these solar farms with the intention of supplying
cheaper green energy to the grid of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority

However, since the “big show” unveiling the joint project with PV Energy – a
company headed by British investor Peter Virdee, now accused of bribery –
the farms have failed to deliver on the Administration’s promise, Pringle says.

None of them is operational, as the batteries needed to store the solar energy
apparently were never installed – not even after the Administration’s
purported agreement with PV Energy to rectify the situation.
Meanwhile, equipment for the wind farm can be seen lying on the ground,
ostensibly waiting for assembly.

Pringle says these ventures were a waste of money, as there is neither the
technical expertise nor the political will to get them going.
Other efforts at providing cheaper and cleaner energy alternatives reportedly
are bearing no fruit, either. Pundits tell REAL News that efforts to widen the
channel near High Point – to allow the ships supplying LNG to dock – have

In the meantime, they say that APUA should not have had to resort to
changing its billing structure to generate additional funds.

“Had the Authority been managed properly,” one adviser tells our Newsroom,
“increased consumption alone would drive up the sale of electricity.”
He is referring to the phenomenal heat gripping the country and the increased
sale and usage of air-conditioning units – which the Browne Administration,
itself, is promoting via a special grant project.

“With the weather being what it is, and with children home from school for 10
weeks, and seniors needing to stay indoors, of course everybody is going to be
under their fans,” Pringle says.

Unfortunately, he adds, many households are experiencing a drop in their
income at this time, as the tourism season has ended. And, with the steady
increase in the cost of living, meeting their electricity bills may already be a

Therefore, with the revised pricing structure of the bills, Pringle observes that
those who purchase the air-conditioning units “may not even be able to afford
to run them.”

He notes, too, that residents hardly ever benefit from the drop in international
fuel prices, but are routinely subjected to the increases.
“So the only words I can use to describe the Administration’s decision at a
time like this are ‘heartless’ and ‘unconscionable,’” he says.

“And coming off the recent SIDS4 Conference, the Government’s continued
failure to bring these solar and wind alternatives into operation makes the
Administration hypocritical.”