BEC bills increasing
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s fuel surcharge rose 20 percent this month over last month due to higher oil prices on the international market, and that trend will likely continue, according to BEC General Manager Kevin Basden.
“In February the fuel charge was 17.98 cents per unit and March was 22.517 cents per unit,”Basden said.
“Based on what we’ve seen on the international market in terms of the cost of oil going up we anticipate a continued increase. So as we get new shipments of fuel, more than likely you would have to pay that higher cost going forward and there again it would directly impact our customers.”
Oil prices dropped to$99 per barrel midday yesterday, the Associated Press reported.
The prices have continued to fluctuate between$98 and$105 per barrel.
The increase this month comes after months of decreases, Basden noted.
He explained that the increased oil prices are just beginning to affect The Bahamas.
Basden said while the fuel surcharge for April will likely be higher, he could not give the percentage increase.
“It’s too early for us to say because we calculate[the fuel surcharge]by fuel that is actually used. We have to take into account fuel that is already in the tank, purchase the fuel, etc. So we are unable to predict what the cost would actually be in April,”he explained.
According to Basden, the value of the fuel is based on two driving factors: the cost of fuel on the international market and BEC’s operations in terms of whether it is running more generation from Clifton Pier.
“But the greatest factor is the cost of oil on the international market. That’s why we said based on the trend that we are seeing it suggests that the fuel cost would probably increase,”he added.
“So from our perspective once again we have to stress conservation measures, using energy wisely and efficiently.”
Basden suggested consumers turn off lights whenever possible, turn up the thermostat on air conditioning units, ensure air conditioning filters are maintained and use energy efficient light bulbs and energy efficient appliances, among other things.
Basden said simple measures such as the ones he suggested can assist customers in reducing the overall cost in electricity.
Additionally, he said BEC in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment will launch an”energy efficient bulb program”before the end of the year to promote energy efficiency.
Basden said bulbs will be issued to certain residents based on the amount of electricity they consume.
“This will be a tangible means of targeting consumers,”he said.
During his mid-year budget statement last month, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham pointed out that the risks associated with increases in oil and commodity prices were rising in light of developments in the Middle East and ongoing upward pressures on world food prices.
Ingraham said the government will have to closely monitor such trends as they will have clear implications for domestic gasoline, electricity and food prices, as well as the government’s fiscal position and the broader economy.
He added that both the private and public sectors will need to implement conservation measures to minimize the impacts.
The rising cost of oil has already began to affect gas prices.
Last week, the price of gas at Esso gas stations rose above the$5 mark.
The trend is expected to be mirrored at other stations in the near future, according to Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour.
Yesterday, the price of gasoline at Esso stations stood at$5.12 per gallon, while prices at Texaco and Shell remained at$4.72 and$4.78 per gallon respectively.