Philipsburg:--- The Minister of Infrastructure and Housing William Marlin announced on Wednesday during the Council of Ministers' press briefing that he is busy discussing with a company to replace all the current street lights with LED lights. Marlin said that even though GEBE is responsible for replacing the street lights based on the concessions GEBE has with Government, he as Minister of Infrastructure is taking the initiative to have the lights replaced because the street lights are not functioning in several areas. Marlin said the NA/DP/IND Government inherited a situation where the street lights are not functioning and it is government's responsibility to have the streets lighted. Marlin said the concessions that GEBE has with Government which was signed in 2010 stipulated that GEBE is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of the these lights.
The Minister further explained that ever since he took office he has been in contact with the management of GEBE for them to shed light on their responsibilities based on the concession. Marlin said that GEBE is now claiming that they do not mind taking responsibility for the maintenance of these lights but they want to know who will be paying the maintenance fees. He said because of this concern, GEBE has left the street lights unattended. Marlin said there is a proposal from GEBE on the table that they are busy discussing however, next to that he is busy discussing with another company who would replace the existing street lights with LED lights. LED lights he said will decrease the cost of electricity consumption while they also have a longer life span with better lighting capabilities. Marlin said there are other companies that are interested in participating in the project but the current coalition government is looking at a company that will provide its own financing for the replacement of the lights while government will pay for the replacement of these lights with the monies they saved on utility bills.
Marlin said another project that will soon be signed off is a project that will introduce solar panels to the island. Marlin said government is busy with adopting the legislation on what is described as net metering. He said persons who install these solar panels will have to pump the electricity that is generated into GEBE's grid and they will be compensated for it. Marlin further explained that he held discussions with the new director of GEBE and so far the company and government are on the same page when it comes to alternative energy. The Minister of Energy said that the time has come for government and GEBE to tackle the situation regarding alternative energy by implementing it. Marlin said this coming week he will be signing off on a educational project where schools and other persons can visit the company and see how the solar paneling works. He said government has to lead by example and their intention is to start installing solar panels at the schools on St. Maarten.