A Storm Recovery and Stabilization Charge that was to hit Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) customers’ bills as of April 1 has been delayed “until further notice” due to the impact of COVID-19, according to Karla McIntosh, Port Group Ltd. general legal counsel.
In a press statement released by the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) recently, McIntosh said, “Understanding our role of city regulator, we have an obligation to make decisions in the best interest of our residents.
“As a matter of priority, we have worked together with [GBPC] to temporarily suspend the Storm Recovery and Stabilization Charge.”
Last month, GBPA announced that the charge would be implemented as the company attempts to recoup $15 million in restoration costs associated with Hurricane Dorian. At that time, it said the charge will represent less than $7 for residential customers and less than $24 for business customers.
But since then the novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, late December, has spread across the globe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a pandemic last week, and shortly after announced that Europe is now the epicenter of the pandemic.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that The Bahamas now has a total of three confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar also warned Bahamians to prepare for an economic calamity that will exceed that of Hurricane Dorian, as the global tourism industry shuts down.
In light of these latest developments, GBPA commended GBPC’s decision to suspend the storm recovery fee.
“We commend GBPC for their responsible corporate citizenry in collaborating with GBPA on the delaying of this charge, and their civic-mindedness with regard to the changing needs of our community,” its statement read.
It added, “[GBPA] is acutely aware of ramifications of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have been working diligently over the past few weeks with relevant governmental agencies and key stakeholders to put into place a coordinated and robust plan.”
GBPA said it would continue to provide updates and in the meantime encouraged residents to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) as it relates to COVID-19.