VINLEC team faces media
April 22, 2005

VINLEC team faces media

Faced with widespread outcry over the April fuel surcharge, VINLEC Chief Executive Officer Thornley Myers and a team of top line managers faced the media Tuesday to explain that VINLEC has no control over the price of fuel used for generating electricity. {{more}}

It was a message that would hold little solace for customers here who have seen the vexing fuel surcharge increase on their latest electricity bill.

Myers, who had just returned from Vancouver, Canada where he attended a conference on human resource performance improvement, seemed fired up and well briefed by his Customer Services manager Steve Wyllie, who sat on his far left. Indeed it was Wyllie who, along with engineer Dr. Vaughn Lewis had, last Sunday in Myers’ absence, to face the music from irate callers when they appeared on a radio-link up discussion on the issue.

Myers came prepared with handouts, which he distributed to members of the media before launching into his presentation. He sought to demonstrate that the cost of fuel had been fluctuating since 1973 to the present price of 60 cents per gallon.

He drove home the point that VINLEC was a local company with Vincentian employees, none of whom get any rebates on their electricity bills. Emphasising that the company “does not make money from the fuel surcharge” he was at pains to point out the monies collected from the fuel surcharge was passed on to the fuel suppliers.

What is happening is not unique to VINLEC,” Myers said, “it is a consequence of what is happening the world over.”

He explained that with the onset of the dry season the company’s hydro electricity generating plants had not been producing below average creating an added reliance on the diesel generated plants. Myers also mentioned an environmental factor, which impact on the amount of water available for the hydro plants. He said that runoff was not taking place much more rapidly leaving less water available. VINLEC, the CWSA and government were he said involved in a project to maintain forests.

Responding to an issue that has been aired in public discussion, the CEO mentioned that the company used their high-speed engines only at peak hours for short periods. He however said that high-speed engines would continue to be used, even after the Lowman’s Bay Generating Plant, now being constructed, is commissioned.

Myers also addressed the issue of VINLEC possibly cushioning the impact of fuel prices. He said that financial obligations to donor and loan agencies would not permit the company to do so. “We cannot use money from infrastructure to cushion the impact of cost’, Myers said, “they just would not allow it!”

He showed off copies of financial statement from several years explaining that the company is audited each year and invited members of the media to access copies at will.

He also revealed that the company makes on average $1.5 million net profit after tax.

Myers, who heads a new team appointed after the controversial sacking of the most of the former management team in 2003, expressed confidence in the competence of his team. “We may not have the best engineers in the world,” he said ” but they can compare with any anywhere.”