By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE “incompetence” and “arrogance” of Bahamas Electricity Corporation Executive Chairman Leslie Miller has left the country saddled with “the highest fuel surcharge” it has ever seen, Phenton Neymour, former state minister for the environment, said yesterday.
Mr Neymour told The Tribune if Mr Miller and the Progressive Liberal Party did not “stop, review and cancel” provisions left in place for BEC by the Free National Movement the country would not be experiencing “so many blackouts and such high electricity costs.” He added that the PLP has failed to live up to its campaign promise to lower BEC bills.
Last week, Mr Miller admitted that because of the recent blackouts and load shedding in the capital, BEC customers can expect an increase in their electricity bills. He said because two of the engines at the Clifton Pier Power Station had failed, the Blue Hills Power Plant, which uses more diesel, is running at full capacity, therefore customers can expect to pay as much as 30 cents per kilowatt hour in fuel surcharge.
Yesterday Mr Neymour said if Mr Miller did not cancel the contract for additional generators to be rented during the summer months and did proper maintenance work, the public would not be “overburdened” with frequent blackouts and increased bills.
“The Blue Hills power station is more reliable, however the fuel cost is higher. Clifton is more fuel efficient but requires more maintenance and Mr Miller has not maintained the engines,” Mr Neymour said.
“He should have had an extensive maintenance programme beginning in January 2013 but that didn’t happen. Also those generators require more maintenance which he hasn’t done. Mr Miller said he spent $5million but that is too little for what needs to be done. He also cancelled the generators we had for the summer that reduced the output by 35 per cent and now we are in a blackout because he decided he didn’t want it. We are suffering because Mr Miller decided he did not want to purchase 40 megawatts of power, yet he is saying there is a shortfall.
“Mr Miller and the PLP are to blame, their incompetence is costing the public.”
Mr Neymour said the PLP and Mr Miller promised to lower the cost of electricity and now, two years into their term, electricity bills are the highest they have ever been.
He said: “The fuel surcharge is 30 cents, the highest it has ever been. When cost of fuel was $147 per barrel it still was not that high, even during the oil crisis it was not this bad. This is unbelievable now because of the incompetence of Mr Miller we are paying more money for less power. They stopped, reviewed and cancelled two generators we were purchasing and now we are in trouble. It will get worse before it gets better. This is just another example of how the PLP do not know what they are doing. I suggest they revisit the FNM’s plan and get some pointers.”
Last week, Mr Miller said BEC will continue load shedding across New Providence indefinitely.
Mr Miller told The Tribune four engines, three at Clifton Pier and one at Blue Hills, failed causing a generation shortage of between 40 to 50 megawatts.
Mr Miller said the corporation brought in three specialists from Fort Lauderdale to assess the problems and he has “no idea” when the load shedding will end.
In the meantime, he said, the corporation will continue to load shed across the capital, with large businesses being asked to run their generators to ensure homeowners stay connected.