Stories from Freeport
Record earnings for majority owner of Grand Bahama Power
By K. NANCOO-RUSSELL
FN Senior Reporter
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama-Canadian company, Emera, which recently acquired a majority share in the Grand Bahama Power Company(GBPC), has reported record earnings for 2010 and a six percent increase in its profits for the last quarter.
A release issued by the company yesterday noted that its consolidated net earnings were$191.1 million in 2010, compared to$175.7 million in 2009.
Its fourth quarter profits rose to C$39.6 million, up from C$37.5 million.
“In 2010, we produced record operating results and record returns for our shareholders,”Chris Huskilson, Emera’s president and CEO, said.
“Emera has had five years of solid progress. We have diversified our earnings, increased our clean generation, and set the stage for future growth.”
In December 2010, Huskilson was in Grand Bahama to announce that Emera, which previously owned 25 percent of shares in the GBPC, is now the majority owner of that company, after purchasing an additional 55.4 percent which had been held by MaruEnergy.
The acquisition brought Emera’s interest in the GBPC to 80.4 percent.
The additional 55.4 percent of shares were purchased for$82 million.
The company had previously invested$42 million for the first 25 percent.
It was at that time that Emera also announced the construction of a new generating plant for Grand Bahama, valued at$35 million.
Acknowledging that the GBPC is in need of more dependable and efficient generation, and that electricity on the island has been unreliable for many years, Huskilson said in December that must change.
Emera is committed to ensuring outages are reduced for all GBPC customers, he said at the time, and the new station will be more reliable and efficient than the current one.
It will be able to handle additional growth and will be built adjacent to the existing plant.
Throughout the construction phase–which is estimated to take between 10 and 12 months–80 to 100 new jobs are expected to be created.
On the question of whether the new plant would in any way lower customers’electricity bills, Huskilson said that some stabilization of costs should be expected.
“Today you see some fairly significant swings in cost as you see various changes in fuel and also as the unreliability of the existing generation comes together… the plant… will very much help to stabilize the cost and so it should very much be able to be funded by existing costs,”he said.
GBPC President Allan Kelley said the company believes that the fuel savings alone at the new plant will pay for most, if not all, of the capital investment required to build it.
“I wouldn’t expect to see, in the future, the monthly fuel swings that for some months take our rates up to 15 percent over the preceding month,”he said.”We hope to make those go away.”
Grand Bahama police focus on violence prevention among youth
By CLEOPATRA MURPHY
Freeport News Reporter
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama-Police are stepping up their efforts to decrease violence among young people.
Yesterday morning students from high schools across Grand Bahama attended a ceremony at police headquarters where they were presented with books on conflict resolution by the Police Staff Association.
Sergeant Darrell Weir addressed the group where he noted that the country is currently undergoing a crime crisis.
“Based on the research that we did we were able to determine that most of these crimes committed are as a result of individuals not being able to resolve their differences,”he said.
Weir said with that being the case officers saw the value in sensitizing youth about the necessity of talking about their issues before they escalate to the point of violence.
“In the next year or two most of you will be graduating. At this point in your life if you don’t know how to resolve your differences, when you reach out there it will be worse due to the negative influences you have out there,”he said.
“We know our message might not reach all, but we know at the end of the day you will be able to tell someone and we be able to get one, then we know our work wouldn’t be in vain,”Weir said.
Superintendent of police Melvin Lundy commended the Police Staff Association on its initiative to decrease violence among the nation’s youth calling it a step in the right direction.
“We are living in a society where there are social, cultural, economic, religious and political differences. Definitely there will be conflicts whether in the school, the home, the workplace or in the community,”Lundy said.
“I am not an expert on conflict resolution, but I do know that successful conflict resolution occurs by listening and providing opportunities to meet the needs of all parties and to adequately address interests so that all parties are satisfied with the outcome,”he said.
Lundy told the students that the books would be a useful tool to them and he hoped that they would avail themselves of the information and use it in their daily lives.
Students from Eight Mile Rock High School acted out a confrontation for the audience to show just how conflicts can arise.
The ceremony was an enlightening one for the high schoolers as they were able to determine what type of animal they are when confronted with conflicts.
Assistant superintendent of police and press liaison officer Loretta Mackey posted sheets with the names of four animals on the walls-a turtle, a bird, a lion and a fox and the students were told to stand by the animal that represents them when faced with conflict.
One female student selected the bird sharing that she tends to stay away from conflict, while most chose the lion, reasoning that when confronted they will protect themselves fiercely.
Mackey shared with the students that when they are faced with conflict it is sometimes difficult to control their emotions, but it is important that they learn how to manage them because not being able to control them can lead to bigger problems.
“If you are to get into a problem somebody can get seriously hurt, you can get arrested, you can get a criminal conviction,”she said.
She added that depending on the severity of their crime the smirch on their record can follow them for a long time.
Mackey encouraged the students that should they get into a conflict with another person that they should turn to a mediator for help be it a school principal, guidance councilor, parent or another mature student.
“If there is nothing that you would have taken from this we want you to know who you are; what’s the animal in you and how you control that animal,”she said.
Conflicts are inescapable Mackey said but how you choose to handle them can make a difference.
“Remember, conflicts are not readily resolved but there must be a willingness to resolve them on both sides so that at the end of the day there is a win, win for everybody,”she said.
Dudley Seide, president of Reach Out Ministries, also addressed the students targeting his message to the young men.
“My message to all the young boys out there, think twice,”Seide said.”The reality of it is when your door is closed and when you are at home none of your friends are around.”
He observed that many young men don’t think of the future while in high school, but make a lot of unwise decisions that affect them when they look for a job and they have already messed up their police record.
Seide said that friends stay around to get you in trouble but later abandon you so he encouraged the students to enjoy their time in high school.