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Bethel: BPL increase not set in stone

Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday a $20 to $30 increase on light bills is not “set in stone,” noting that the figure “may go down or it may go up”.

Bethel said the Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill, 2019, grants power “every 60 days in advance, adjustments in that rate”.

On November 27, it was announced that the average household light bill will increase by $20 to $30 for approximately 10 months next year.

Bethel’s comments come roughly two weeks after the bill was passed in the House of Assembly.

During his contribution to the Senate yesterday, Bethel said, “The figure of $30 was thrown around. I’m not sure if that is set in stone because we have to look at the terms of the bonds when they are actually issued to be able to determine how to spread the load of paying for the fee.

“So, that is a figure that has been plucked out of the air and thrown out as a potential figure, a likely figure, maybe, but not the figure.”

The bill aims to establish a legislative framework for BPL to raise $650 million through a rate reduction bond.

According to Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, $321.1 million of the funds raised will be used to refinance BPL’s debt, $28 million for solar installations on the Family Islands, $70 million for the expansion of the Wartsila plant at Clifton Pier, $15 million to convert Family Island generation facilities to liquefied natural gas, $15 million for fiberglass cooling pipe replacement, $30 million for an advanced metering infrastructure project and $6 million for system reinforcement and customer connections.

He also said that $48.1 million will be used for 132-kilovolt transmission and substation upgrades, $34.9 million for line upgrades and extensions, $24.7 million for other substation upgrades and $14.3 million for 34.5-kilovolt line upgrades.

Yesterday, while explaining the government’s intended usage of the funds from the bond, Bethel said, “So, when that is all done, those funds will repay the government some of its expenditure. Those funds will assist in terms of the bond in addressing transmission, distribution, etc. and the bringing on of the Shell liquified natural gas plant.

“And when that 40 percent drop goes into place that will have the effect of erasing any cost associated with the bond financing fee because a 40 percent drop in electricity bill – across the board – is bound to be greatly in excess of the bond financing fee. So, that is the strategy. It is a short-term pain for all of us for long-term gain.”

The bill was passed in the Senate.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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