Former Minister for Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville yesterday criticized the government for increasing its allocation to Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) without providing compensatory measures to businesses and homeowners who suffered through load shedding and frequent power outages during the summer of 2019.
Darville was contributing to debate on the supplementary budget yesterday.
“We simply cannot afford another summer with load shedding. After passing the legislation for BPL customers to pay off hundreds of millions of the corporation’s legacy debt and borrowing in excess of $120 million in upgrades to the corporation’s generation capability, many businesses suffered last year because of BPL’s failure to deliver on its mandate to deliver efficient, reliable electricity after the fire at the Clifton Pier station,” Darville said.
“As a result, failing to produce the records concerning that fire URCA (Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority) fined the corporation approximately $250,000 for not being transparent. Yet there’s another $27 million that is going to the corporation. This was and still is unacceptable. And no compensatory measures were put in place by BPL or the government for the business community that lost thousands of dollars in equipment damage by erratic flow of electricity and power surges.”
In November URCA made a determination that BPL had breached the Electricity Act (EA) and conditions of the Public Service Electricity Service License (PESL), and therefore ordered the corporation to pay a fine in the total amount of $229,535.34.
Darville also criticized the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) yesterday for adding a charge to its customers’ electricity bills of between $7 and $24, beginning on April 1, as the company attempts to recoup $15 million in restoration costs associated with Hurricane Dorian.
“Low and behold, the Grand Bahama Power Company with the approval of the regulator the Grand Bahama Port Authority approved its new Dorian recovery levy at a time when the business community is struggling to jumpstart the local economy, creating additional financial burden to residents without any consultation. At least come to the people and tell them what you’re going to do,” he said.
“No consultation with the customers, which is not going down well in the community. It is my understanding that the GBPC refused to move unless it was able to recover the $15.6 million cost associated with the restoration of its uninsured transmission and distribution infrastructure mainly in East Grand Bahama.
“We were informed months prior to this announcement, that offers were made by NGOs to rebuild this much-needed T&D infrastructure with minimal costs, but they were all frustrated and walked away from the table while the GBPC debated a policy decision to install smaller power satellite stations to the settlements in East Grand Bahama, as the residents rebuild and the consumer numbers for that service rebound.”