A “Storm Recovery and Stabilization Charge” that Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) customers will see on their bills come March 1 was labeled a “Dorian tax” by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Philip Brave Davis yesterday.
Saying that Grand Bahamians are “struggling” in a post-Dorian economy, Davis called on the government and the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA) to revisit the GBPC’s decision.
“…[B]efore Hurricane Dorian, the people of Grand Bahama were struggling economically with many relocating to Nassau in search of jobs,” he said during the PLP monthly press conference at its headquarters.
“This economic condition worsened after Dorian. Why, then, would the government allow the Grand Bahama Power Company to impose what I call a ‘Dorian tax’ on its struggling customers?”
He added, “We call upon the government, and in particular URCA, to revisit this decision.
“In fact, they must revisit this decision in light of the suffering of the people in Grand Bahama, and bring the requisite relief to the people of Grand Bahama and to that beleaguered economy.”
The charge will represent less than $7 for residential customers and less than $24 for business customers, according to a release from the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), which has oversight of the utility.
GBPC said it will be implemented as the company attempts to recoup $15 million in restoration costs associated with Hurricane Dorian, which devastated Grand Bahama and Abaco in September.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest addressed concerns raised about the implementation of the charge, saying that while government is concerned about it, it is “unavoidable”.
He told reporters last week that the charge seems like the only way to fund the millions of dollars’ worth of repairs to the electricity infrastructure downed by Hurricane Dorian.
Davis slammed those comments yesterday, however, also suggesting that GBPC as a privately financed company should claim insurance to recoup damages from the monster storm.
“The finance minister responded that the charge was ‘regrettable, but necessary’,” he said.
“This statement is asinine when you consider the stress and pain residents of Grand Bahama are facing as they try to rebuild their lives with little, if any, tangible assistance from this government.”
He added, “We all know that the power plant and electrical grid in Grand Bahama are privately owned and insured.
“It then stands to reason that losses for damaged infrastructure will be claimed from the insurers.”
Six months after Dorian, some residents on Grand Bahama were still without power in some of the hardest-hit areas of the island.
In a press release initially announcing the implementation of the charge, General Counsel at Port Group Limited Karla McIntosh highlighted that GBPC rates have not been increased since 2013, but noted that Dorian’s unprecedented impact had a hefty cost.