Guernsey

Sark electricity: Deal struck for government buy out

Sark Electricity power station
Image caption Sark Electricity imports diesel by ferry and burns it in four generators in an old coal store

Details have emerged of the last-minute deal to avoid an island-wide blackout in Sark.

When Sark Electricity was forced to lower prices, the utility firm threatened to switch off supplies to 300 islanders at the end of November.

Talks have been ongoing since Wednesday night, when Chief Pleas - the island's government - voted unanimously to value the company with a view to buying it.

The deal will see prices increase until the utility is bought in February 2019.

Sark Electricity will revert to its old price of 66p/kWh - the price it charged before it was forced to lower the tariff.

An independent commissioner had ruled islanders were paying too much at that rate and ordered Sark Electricity to lower its tariff to 52p/kWh.

That is significantly higher than the UK average tariff of about 14p/kWh.

Sark Electricity said it would lose £20,000 a month at the new price and Mr Gordon-Brown, whose family has run the firm since the 1960s, had said he had "no option" but to pull the plug at the end of November.

The company imports diesel by ferry and burns it in four generators in an old coal store.

The deal has been described as the "best outcome" by Sark's Seigneur, Major Christopher Beaumont.

"It's short term, but short term with a purpose to do a valuation with the aim of cheaply purchasing the company that generates electricity on Sark," he told BBC News.

"Both parties agreed this was the best outcome."

The Seigneur is the titular head of Sark, which has a population of about 500.

Fundamental changes were made to Sark's feudal laws in 2009 and many ancient rights and duties were revoked, although it remains a royal fief and £1 a year is still paid to Queen Elizabeth II for the island's rent.

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