Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has temporarily relaxed its disconnection policy for the holidays, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey announced yesterday.
Customers whose electricity supply has been disconnected can have their lights turned back on in time for Christmas if they pay 25 percent of their past due balance.
“What this policy is basically saying is we recognize that our customers are hurting,” said Moxey, when reached for a comment.
“We recognize that several of our customers, a number of our customers are off the grid right now and what we would like to do is, understanding the holidays, bring those customers who are off the grid back on the grid by allowing them to come in and pay that 25 percent of their outstanding balance and we would put them back on the grid.”
He said they would have to pay that 25 percent before December 19 in order to have their power reconnected before Christmas.
Moxey said customers whose power has not yet been disconnected will also benefit from the policy.
Customers who have more than 60 days in arrears can pay 25 percent of past due balances before December 21 and avoid disconnection before the holidays.
He said, “What that does is that allows Bahamians to have a much better peace of mind going into the holiday that their power is not going to be interrupted… It allows those Bahamians who are off the grid to come back on and we think we’re allowing that to happen at a very reasonable rate.”
Moxey continued, “What we’re hoping is, you know, Bahamians who are in the two categories that we put forth will decide to take advantage of this opportunity to make sure they have power for the holidays and there is no fear that they will be disconnected during the holidays.”
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister said more than 5,000 BPL customers had been disconnected after not paying their bills for more than 60 days.
Moxey said approximately 15,000 customers are eligible for the policy relaxation.
BPL Director of Customer Services Peter Rutherford said customers throughout The Bahamas will be able to access the promotion.
“We’ve made provisions logistically in New Providence at our Mall of Marathon location, even on our Family Islands and even with our third party vendors,” Rutherford said.
“So, if you cannot get in to see us directly, once you get into any of our participating vendors, we can actually accommodate you and make sure you have an enjoyable Christmas.”
The average residential light bill in The Bahamas increased by 45 percent between October 2017 and October 2018, according to data provided by BPL.
Moxey has said that it might be well into next year before the high fuel charge on power bills comes down significantly.
However, he has confirmed that as global oil prices drop, so should the fuel charge, though there will likely be some lag.
Earlier this week, Citi Bank forecasted that oil prices will neither increase nor decrease in 2019, according to CNBC.
Moxey told The Nassau Guardian in an interview earlier this week that if this projection is correct, BPL customers will see a decrease on their light bills in upcoming months.
“Yes, BPL will pass on cost savings of fuel to customers,” he said.
He added, “The thing that customers need to understand that based on how we buy fuel, because we have to maintain certain inventories, there’s a lag of about 40 to 60 days in terms of when those particular savings come to be realized by the customer.”
Citi said international oil prices will average $60 per barrel.
In September, a barrel of oil was sold for $82.72.
There was 30 percent decrease last month which saw the price per barrel drop to $57.50.
In October, BPL attributed the significantly higher fuel charges on light bills to increased usage of its Blue Hills power plant and the increase in 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.