Opinion: G.E.B.E’s 62+ relief program

POSTED: 07/8/14 3:04 AM

Is it going to be a relief or a headache? We’re not sure about this, after utility company Gebe announced in a press release that it had received all applications for its 62+-relief program. Maybe it is just us, but the information we receive about this – in itself laudable initiative – keeps confusing us.

First, during a presentation in March, the message was that seniors 62 years or older would qualify but that there were certain conditions attached like the household income and the electricity consumption over the past twelve months. Also, the program would run for a full year.

That last aspect has been swiped under the table, because the program will now last only six months. That’s the first disappointment for seniors because – mark our words – as sure as sunshine follows after rain, this relief program will die a silent death after the first six months. Why? Because by that time the elections are behind us. (Editor’s note: we would love to be wrong on this point).

The latest press release does not contain any information about the requirements applicants have to meet, other than that they have to be 62 or older. So what is there to consider?

Anyway, the press release also contains an overview of the relief seniors may expect. There are five levels, based on the guilder-amount of the Gebe-bill. Seniors who consume between zero and 200 guilders worth of electricity receive no relief at all.

Is the consumption between 201 and 300 guilders, then the senior receives a 200 guilders discount. We foresee trouble here: someone with a bill of, say 199 guilders, is left empty-handed, while someone with a bill of 201 guilders will get a discount of 200 guilders and pay close to nothing. We figure that this will encourage the real prudent consumers to jack up their bill a little bit to prevent that they’re missing out on those 200 bucks.

Over the next three levels (301-500, 501-700 and above 700 guilders), the relief decreases in steps of 50 guilders to 150, 100, and 50.

Quite nice actually is Gebe’s initiative to buy LED lights for “the elderly.” We are not sure who qualifies for this category, but some will, for sure. And those LED lights will bring electricity consumption further down. Ironically, that would give a savvy senior with an electricity bill of, say, 330 guilders, the opportunity to reach the 201-300 category and thereby qualify for maximum relief on her or his utility bill.

We’re looking forward to the practical effects of this relief program on our senior citizens and to the selection criteria Gebe will use. Because about those criteria, we still do not know anything.

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