SHTA wants to discuss water tariff with GEBE

POSTED: 04/5/11 11:59 AM

St. Maarten – The St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Organization wants a meeting with utilities company GEBE to discuss the composition of the water price, though at the moment no date for this meeting has been set.

SHTA President Emil Lee told this newspaper that his organization wants to know whether GEBE buys its water at a fixed price from Air-Fin, or that the price is subject to a clause for fluctuations in energy-prices.

“If there is no such clause, why would GEBE have to charge a fuel clause to its customers?” Lee wondered.

The request for the meeting comes after two court rulings that have forced GEBE to drop the fuel clause from water bills for the Westin Hotel. The utilities company has to repay the hotel between $1 and $2 million. Part of this money is the fuel clause Westin paid on its water bills since 2007; the other part is what Westin paid too much for the water itself.

The SHTA has followed the court case closely and is pondering its consequences for other businesses in the hospitality sector.

The fuel clause on water bills is typically higher than the price for the water itself. It is un clear whether GEBE will be forces to drop this significant surcharge altogether and change its rate-structure, or whether it will find reprieve in a still pending court procedure.


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