Amid concerns over the increasing cost of electricity, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) CEO Whitney Heastie and Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey yesterday urged consumers to conserve energy.
But Moxey assured the fuel surcharge will not increase next month.
“We really want to try to get customers to understand that they really need to conserve energy,” Heastie told The Nassau Guardian.
“Whether it be some of the simpler things in their home, not leaving appliances or lights on, or the more difficult things, getting more energy efficient appliances, I think that’s the drive that customers have to be considering as we look at how we get prices down in terms of price to consumers on their bills.”
BPL has said that the significantly higher fuel charges on consumers’ bills is a result of the increase in global oil prices and the increased usage of its Blue Hills power plant, following fires that impacted two of the Clifton Pier power station’s largest engines in September.
“When we lost those assets at Clifton and we had to shift our load to Blue Hills, we ended up utilizing the more expensive fuel, and right now our fuel mixture is 70 percent automotive diesel oil (ADO), 30 percent heavy fuel oil (HFO),” Moxey said on Friday.
He noted that while BPL is working on securing additional assets to compensate for the loss of those engines, that might not happen until next summer.
Asked yesterday whether there will be an increase in the fuel surcharge next month, Moxey said, “I wouldn’t say bills would be higher because if you look at it, I don’t see the ratio going beyond the 70/30 percent mixture.
“I don’t see that going beyond that and so what we look at now is how do we now get assets that use the cheaper oil back online and that’s really where the issue is; how do we do that quickly.”
He added, “We are looking to see how much of our base load we can actually transition to the lower cost fuel assets and that’s what we are working to do.
“And again as the CEO talked about, we’re also going to be engaging in an educational campaign with Bahamians, specific to how do you do things that are much more environmentally efficient when you look at your use of electricity.
“So that’s changing out your light bulbs, using more LED efficient lights bulbs, [and] making sure things are turned off in your homes.
“Not only that; one of the things we want people to look at, and it’s even on the bills, you look at and track your usage of electricity, so you’ll see every month your kilowatt hour usage and you want to make sure that you have the ability now to do everything you can to manage that kilowatt hour usage.
“The fuel side of it, it’s very little we can do because we depend on global oil and we are at the mercy of global oil prices.”
The fuel surcharge typically makes up the majority of electricity costs for the consumer.
BPL passes on the charge directly to the consumer.
The fuel surcharge has steadily increased this year. In the February billing period it was 14.75 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh); in the March cycle it was 14.9 cents per kwh; in April, the surcharge rose to 15.68 cents per kwh; in May, it jumped to 17.46 per kwh; in June, it was 17.38 cents per kwh; in July, the surcharge per kwh was 19.46 cents; and in the August and September billing periods it was 19.15 cents per kwh.
In October, it was also 19.15 cents.