By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
ALTHOUGH there has been a decline in fuel surcharge to consumers by the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), Pastor Eddie Victor, of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCC), said that it only represents one-third of the overall reduction in oil prices globally.
He believes that the fuel surcharge should be around nine cents per kilowatt hour (kwh), which would be in line with the global reduction in oil prices.
According to information provided by Mr Victor, the GB Power fuel surcharge as of April 29 was at 12.63 cents per kwh, compared to 14.41 cents charged in July 2014.
“The global decrease in oil prices is 41 per cent, but the decrease in the fuel surcharge by the Grand Bahama Power Company to consumers is only 12 per cent – that is one-third of the decrease that has taken place globally,” he stated.
Pastor Victor believes that GB Power is not passing on fuel savings to consumers. He said that consumers cannot afford pay their power bills, adding that many are living without electricity in their homes.
Pastor Victor reported that the global trend in crude oil prices started declining in July 2014 to $110 per barrel. Now, he said the price is $64.62 per barrel, a 41 per cent decrease.
He also stated that the price of Bunker C fuel, which is used by the GBPC to run their generators, was $103 per barrel in July 2014 and is now $55 per barrel, a decrease of 47 per cent.
“We are calling for a new power company to come in to Grand Bahama to provide affordable, cheaper power. The cost of power is impeding to businesses on the island,” he said.
Deron Brookes, area vice president of Bahamas Customs Officers and Allied Workers Union, believes that the GBPC is “making a killing” off consumers.
Philcher Grant-Farquharson, GBPC’s corporate communications officer, said: “The company purchases fuel in bulk, and we have also recently implemented a hedging programme in order to reduce cost and to maintain a consistent supply for the island’s need. Due to the need to have sufficient inventory on hand, there is approximately a two to three-month lag between the time the company purchases the fuel and passing it on to customers.
“Therefore, the current fuel surcharge reflects the cost of fuel for the previous two to three months.”
Even though the power company has implemented fuel hedging and purchases fuel in bulk, Pastor Victor believes that its fuel surcharge is still not reflective of the decreases in oil prices.
He accused GBPC of continuing to be disrespectful to the government and to Bahamians by refusing to meet and address the issue, and finding ways to lower the cost of power in Grand Bahama.
“We met with GBPC management, but they have dropped out of the talks with the government, the CCC and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, which speaks to the kind of disrespect for the government,and to the people of the Bahamas,” he said.
The CCC has been pro-active in agitating for lower power costs by holding protests, rallies and boycotts and has launched a petition.