GB disconnections also conflict with statistics report
Fewer than 500 of the Grand Bahama Power Company’s (GBPC) over 19,000 customers have had their power disconnected due to outstanding arrears, according to GBPC Corporate Communications Officer Cleopatra Russell, who said the Department of Statistics’ recent statement that approximately 12,000 households in The Bahamas have no electricity due to delinquency is “concerning”.
In its latest labor force survey conducted October 24-30, which pegs unemployment at 11.6 percent nationally, the department reported that “approximately 10 percent of households where the main source of lighting was electricity had their power disconnected due to nonpayment of their bills”.
Statisticians indicated that in the department’s latest survey, participants were asked for the first time whether their “electricity was disconnected because of nonpayment”.
But Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Corporate Communications Manager Arnette Ingraham said last week that based on the power company’s records “the highest our figures have been due to the fact that customers did not pay their bills was around 6,000”.
Ingraham recently told The Guardian that there were approximately 2,000 disconnections for nonpayment on New Providence, the country’s most populated island.
When contacted yesterday, Russell confirmed that the 500 disconnected customers included those who opted to have their accounts closed as well as customers who were disconnected because of long-standing arrears.
“We can only speak for our customer base and we have not disconnected customers since the storm, but we know that at any given time the Grand Bahama Power Company is always committed to working with our customers to come to a resolve in any way we possibly can,” Russell said.
“We do our best to make disconnections a last resort. We know that especially following Hurricane Matthew that customers are challenged financially, so we have always worked with them and will continue to work with them.
“Of course that (the 12,000 figure), is a concerning number.”
Russell also indicated that there were still approximately 150 customers who were faced with power challenges as a result of Hurricane Matthew which impacted the central and northern islands of The Bahamas in early October.
Asked whether the Department of Statistics reached out to the GBPC to verify its statistics, which are based on a sample size, Russell said, “I am sure they would have done their due diligence, [but] they did not make a request specifically to me, so I do not think I am at liberty to speak on whether they would have made a request to someone else in the organization.”
While hundreds of homes on New Providence and some of the northern Family Islands were plunged into darkness for weeks following the passage of Hurricane Matthew in early October, it is unclear why the Department of Statistics included the data on disconnections for nonpayment, which was a bullet point in its press release.