About a quarter of the island was without electricity for a couple of hours on 24 March after a failure in supply from France caused the shut-down of an important substation in the east. It was fortunate that the failure came on a Saturday when schools, offices and many local businesses were shut.
Jersey imports 97 per cent of all its electricity from the European market via France, with the remainder coming from local conventional gas production. The dependence on its neighbour is now beginning to cause some concern in the island, where the development of neither wind nor tidal power has yet been considered as a viable option even though there is potential for both these renewable sources. A small project to produce energy from waste has now run into considerable opposition and subsidies to encourage the use of solar panels in new buildings are still a long way off.
Electricity supply and distribution in the island is monopolised by Jersey Electricity Company (JEC). It is one of the largest commercial companies in the island, and in recent years it has diversified into internet hosting and telecommunications, both of which are increasing demand on electrical supplies in Jersey.
The cost of importing electricity into the island has increased by about 55 per cent in the last two to three years, with only about 30 per cent handed on in price increases to consumers. JEC says that after a 20 per cent price rise in household electricity bills at the beginning of this year no more are planned until 2009. The company