Minister for Grand Bahama Ginger Moxey yesterday decried the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s (GBPA) approval of a base rate increase for the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), saying that residents are unhappy with the recent decision.
The GBPA announced on Monday that after months of review it approved GBPC’s application for a rate increase, albeit at a much lower 3.3 percent – down from the 6.3 percent requested in the initial filing.
Moxey said while she is satisfied the authority approved a lower rate, now is not the time for struggling Grand Bahamians to see an increase in their electricity bills.
“I would never be satisfied with any type of increase but… at the end of the day we continue to call for compassionate leadership because people continue to be hurting throughout the country, but on Grand Bahama Island in particular because of what we’ve gone through as a result of Hurricane Dorian and the pandemic and hurricanes before that. So we continue to fight for the people and continue to stress our stance against any type of increases,” she told reporters before yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.
“Of course, residents are unhappy, we are unhappy. But again we are not the regulators, the government is not the regulator, the Grand Bahama Port Authority is the regulator based on the Hawksbill Creek Agreement that was signed back in 1955. So again, we will continue to fight for the people.”
In addition to the lower rate, the GBPA amended the start date for the rate increase to begin in April, to lessen the immediate impact on customers.
In a statement released yesterday, the Ministry for Grand Bahama reiterated its position that any increase is difficult for the many residents and businesses still struggling to survive.
“A Cabinet committee was formed shortly after the filing of the rate adjustment in September 2021, comprised of Ministers Obediah Wilchcombe, Alfred Sears, Michael Darville, Ryan Pinder and Ginger Moxey,” the statement noted.
“The committee engaged with both the regulator, GBPA and the utility company, GBPC, with a view to advocate for the residents and businesses of Grand Bahama at a time when the impact of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 is still evident. From the outset, the committee issued a strong response to the initial filing of the application and clearly stated that the Davis administration does not support any rate increase on any portion of the customer base on Grand Bahama Island.”
The Free National Movement yesterday called it “deeply disappointing and inconsiderate” that the GBPA approved the rate increase.
“The GBPA has approved the rate application that will increase electricity costs by 3.3 percent. While the regulator claims to have conducted public consultation, the majority of Grand Bahamians were not able to have their views heard. In addition, the vast majority of Grand Bahamians that had the opportunity were absolutely opposed to any rate increase at this time. Grand Bahama’s economy continues to struggle through a recovery which requires new and increased investments,” the party noted in a statement.
“One of the largest impediments to investments has been the cost of electricity in Grand Bahama. This decision is counter-productive and will make it even more difficult to attract and expand investments. While we are sympathetic to the economic plight of GBPC, we are even more mindful of the struggling residents and businesses fighting their own economic challenges and this increase will only be another blow to the island’s recovery.”
Citing challenges following Hurricanes Dorian and Andrew, the need for infrastructural upgrades and a desire to implement renewable energy, GBPC has said the increase was necessary to maintain operations.
The last base rate increase was approved in 2015.