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Chamber: BPL fuel charge decrease welcomed by business community

The headquarters of the Bahamas Power and Light on Baillou Hill Road. FILE

Given the economic state of the country, Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) announcement of a decrease in the fuel charge is welcomed by the business community, Chief Executive Officer of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation (BCCEC) Jeffrey Beckles told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that consumers must now do what they can to reduce consumption in order to make this decrease go even further.

BPL announced on Monday that it would start hedging fuel later this year and that its stockpile of fuel bought this year while oil prices remained low, means the fuel cost is able to be decreased to about ten cents. The company is aiming to keep the country’s fuel cost stabilized in the region of 10 cents through fuel hedging starting in October.

“Obviously we are happy to hear them say so,” said Beckles. “Ten cents is a pretty good start. There has to be that careful balance between reduction and consumption.

“Any reduction in electricity costs and costs in general is always going to be welcomed, particularly at a time when many businesses are still struggling. And then on the consumer side obviously, after a year of very challenging times, be it with Hurricane Dorian and the whole national impact, COVID-19 and the impact it’s had on businesses and consumers, any reduction in costs right now is going to be welcomed as a very, very pleasant change.

“It’s up to them really to manage the process, so that we ensure that the benefit really does accrue to businesses and then ultimately to consumers.”

Beckles said while the reduction does not solve the country’s issues with power production, it is a step in the right direction in rectifying the country’s ease of doing business score as it relates to electricity.

“I doubt any one single move is going to be credited with solving that issue, because it takes a number of steps and this one by all means was a positive step in the right direction,” he said.

Beckles added that the consumer must also put measures in place to reduce their own consumption, in order to see their electricity bills become that much lower in tandem with the drop in the fuel cost.

He added that the conversation on renewable energy also has to continue, as the country moves closer to its obligation to utilize 30 percent renewables for power production by 2030.

“The discussion of solar energy is always going to be a very lively conversation because at the end of the day, other jurisdictions have proven successful in their efforts on alternative energy sources,” Beckles said.

“So for us, it’s going to have to be a continuation of that discussion towards a brighter future when it comes to electricity and as we talk about ways in which we reduce the cost of energy. That conversation obviously has to be a continuing conversation.”

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