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BPL ‘a total mess’, says Davis

Following news that the government is spending $30 million on another generator for Bahamas Power and Light (BPL), Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis called the entire situation a “total mess”.

“That’s a mess,” he said.

“And I’m still waiting to hear what the plans are for BPL. It’s a total mess.

“They are moving from one proposal to one project to the next. We just don’t know what’s going on. They started out with a memorandum of understanding with Shell. They then moved to the construction of the plant by Wartsila.

“Then they moved next to raising money through a rate reduction bond. And then they moved to now, as we understand it, selling two of the plans to Shell again. So, what is it? What is the coherent plan for BPL? Again, I am frightened. I am troubled by where we are headed with the management of this country.”

Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest revealed earlier this week that government spending for the fiscal year of 2019/2020 is projected to be $308.1 million more than was initially forecast.

A breakdown of the estimated expenditure showed that $120 million of the additional spending is non-hurricane related.

Included in that total, $30 million was allocated to the acquisition of a turbine generation plant for BPL, which Turnquest said is “in line with the government’s move to a more resilience-based economic strategy”.

The power company has been the subject of significant criticism over the past year.

Frustration over a long summer of repeated power outages due to load shedding was exacerbated by the announcement that BPL customers would see an increase to already high bills.

The increase was a result of a rate reduction bond, which allows BPL to raise $650 million to refinance its legacy debt and finance infrastructural upgrades to power stations.

Confusion over BPL’s relationship with Shell North America has also contributed to its poor reputation among the Bahamian public.

In April 2018, BPL entered into an agreement with Shell North America to construct a power plant capable of generating 220 megawatts of power.

At the time, it was said that the plant would be paid for entirely by Shell.

However, following several fires at its Clifton Pier and Blue Hill power stations, BPL signed a $95 million agreement with Finnish technology group Wartsila for the installation of a new multimillion-dollar 132-megawatt fossil fuel power plant at Clifton.

In November, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said Wartsila will construct another plant at a cost of $70 million, which is also being financed by the rate reduction bond.

Earlier this month, BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey said both those new plants will be sold to Shell North America, and BPL will then purchase power from Shell.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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