Dear Editor,

  When we bought our air conditioner we were explained that if we let it work consistently it will not use up as much current as if we turned it off when we were not at home. We followed advice and indeed the bill was very reasonable.

  And then with no extra people in the house to use extra water and electricity, also no use of Internet because during that period I was off-island, to my greatest surprise the GEBE bill was almost twice as much as the average bill. As I mentioned, I was off-island and did not get back in time to be able to monitor the system, because one period had passed and I got home towards the end of the next period, of which that bill was about NAf. 200 more than the average bill.

  I am writing this because I am of the opinion that the utility users of St. Maarten are being taken advantage of, by whoever is profiting from in whatever way (except earnest earned salary).

  Whether or not I have mentioned this before I will go down the same path again. I asked an influential person, “How can Saba and Statia, who are in the hurricane belt just like us here in St. Maarten, have the use of solar energy and not St. Maarten?” Yes, the same St. Maarten where everything about the Dutch Windward Islands was administrated. I also added that the ABC islands are also going solar.

  The answers varied, but I could sense that people were careful to voice their full opinion. Some said that is a coalition secret. And then I heard that if you hear that heads roll in GEBE that could be part of the problem.

  That is when I turned off, because I did not want to be involved in hearsay and gossip. I ask direct questions and expect concrete answers.

  I write what I swear to and what I can swear to is that there are so many electricity outages these days that I am surprised if a day passes without an outage. Thanks to radios with built-in rechargeable system which serve to break the silence when there is no electricity, and that is more and more becoming a norm here.

  Because I had to have the airco serviced I asked the gentleman who serviced the airco how often should the airco be serviced and if this can cause the increase in the use of electricity? He did not think so. When I told him about the high GEBE bill he explained that that is gradually becoming a regular complaint and that he believes it is the frequent outages from GEBE which causes the rise in electricity usage. Every time the airco starts it uses much more current than when it remains working consistently.

  In connection with this GEBE situation I was talking to an influential person and mention was made of the way people lived for a long time after [Hurricane – Ed.] Luis. He promised to have that conversation with others, because he understands why those who can, are not willing to switch to solar energy, but he admits that it is not fair to the voters of St. Maarten.

  I told him a few more things which I hope he will deliver directly. He wanted to know why the price of cooking gas should differ so much between the islands.

  By the way, there is a power outage again so I hope this letter reaches you in time. Thanks to back-up batteries.


Russell A. Simmons