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Power Cuts To Go On - If $200m Isn’T Spent

Phenton Neymour

Phenton Neymour

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

CUSTOMERS will continue to suffer power outages if Bahamas Power and Light does not get $200m to turn it into an efficient power-generation entity, a former Cabinet minister told The Tribune yesterday.

Disgruntled residents across New Providence continued to endure load shedding on the weekend that BPL had previously attributed to lack of proper maintenance as well as extreme heat that put immense pressure on its aging generators.

BPL has been load shedding intermittently for the past two weeks but there have been numerous power cuts before that as the electricity provider continues to struggle with a significant generation shortfall.

Former State Minister for Environment Phenton Neymour said the issue is less about BPL, formerly the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), and more about the government.

“This management company only exists to take the blows for the government concerning the failings at BEC and nothing else,” Mr Neymour suggested.

“I predict that immediately after the general election, if the PLP were to retain the government – and I highly doubt this will occur – there will be immediate hikes in electricity bills and staff layoffs. They’re waiting for the election to pass before doing this. It is clear that the government doesn’t know what to do with BPL. I’d said it years ago when it was first announced that a management company was being brought in that this option was a Band-Aid measure.”

“All Bahamians have to understand that for BPL to turn BEC around requires a significant amount of money, time to improve and diligence in that endeavour without political interference. It is the latter which has BPL/BEC in the situation that it finds itself in now.”

Mr Neymour claimed that the previous Ingraham administration had a proposal to purchase the necessary generators that would power the island without problems.

Following the 2012 election, he said, the current government cancelled the remaining two of three purchases for generations and opted to rent generators notwithstanding their criticism of the previous government opting to do the same.

He said this action resulted in the shortfall in New Providence’s power supply as Clifton Pier, already hampered by poor maintenance, does not have the 40 to 60 megawatts it needs to function effectively.

This comes months after American company PowerSecure was contracted to take over management at the government-owned utility provider. The new management deal was touted by the government as being the answer to sub-par electricity service and high electricity bills.

However, sub-par electricity service has not changed and residents with bills as low as $300 continue to be disconnected.

Deputy Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis had announced in June that the government is working on a series of operational agreements with BPL with hopes of getting the corporation to forgive the debts of consumers who have been unable to settle balances for prolonged periods of time.

However, BPL executives said last week that the utility provider is currently “not in any talks” with the government to forgive or write off any of its numerous delinquent accounts and encouraged customers to continue to pay their bills on time in order to remain connected.

In 2013, then BEC Chairman Leslie Miller revealed that 90 per cent of BEC’s 65,000 residential customers were more than 90 days past due – with approximately $26 million in arrears.

Mr Neymour yesterday said even if the government collected all of its outstanding payment from customers, this would not be sufficient to turn the company around.

“Even if BPL were to recover all of its revenue from delinquent customers with outstanding electricity bills, it will only be enough to keep them running for the moment but that alone is insignificant funds to provide assets, generators, and repair work needed for an efficient 21st century utility provider.”

“Just to turn BPL/BEC around into an efficient company would require at least $200 million and that would have to come from government,” he suggested.

Without this investment, Mr Neymour said: “It’s only going to get worse for BPL.”

On Sunday, BPL began load shedding for what the company said would be one-hour intervals in various areas across New Providence. Power outages were also reported on Saturday.

Comments

alfalfa 4 years, 6 months ago

Interesting comments from a man, who a few short years ago, had the power to purchase generators, or to upgrade our system to more eco-sustainable clean electricity but choose to do nothing but blame the previous administration.

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alfalfa 4 years, 6 months ago

Those of us old enough to remember the terrible power cuts of the seventies and eighties, where many people moved away and businesses shut down, realize that really nothing has changed. Fifteen years of FNM government and nine years of PLP government since 1992, and the only thing successive ministers and chairmen of BEC can do is point blame at each other like kindergarten children. Time to shut up and do something about the problem.

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Economist 4 years, 6 months ago

You got so used to the power cuts. It was nothing to have the power go in the middle of a work day. We had a car battery and some 12 volt lights in the house.

We got a second car battery to run a fan....that was heaven.

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 6 months ago

The PLP is steeped in stupid.

Hire a management company to manage a company that does not have enough equipment to accomodate the island's needs and the first thing the PLP does is deny the new management company a rate hike that they need in order to buy the equipment needed to accomodate the needs....

But the PLP out there talking ass about how they reduced electric rates...

You gotta be a special kind of moron to vote PLP..

Then again the new FNM aint no better...

Maybe it's our national stupidity finally catching up with us....

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licks2 4 years, 6 months ago

The FNM needs to send out a "new and better face". . .this one done been out here before and did not get the job done! Sorry Mr. Neymour, you don't get to "rag on" the PLP none. . .you did not do any better. . .you had about ten years to do so!

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SP 4 years, 6 months ago

................................................ Phenton Neymour? Really?? ........................................

This clown crashed and burned with little emperor Hubert Ingraham....Lol

Now he's back from the crypt trying to convince us.....WHAT??...Lol... Bahamians CAN'T be stupid enough to take two steps backwards AGAIN!

Return to your tomb Phenton....PLEASE..... And tell Hubert Ingraham to rest in peace too.

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asiseeit 4 years, 6 months ago

Here is a classic example of the Bahamian people having to pay for the utter and complete MISMANAGEMENT of BEC and the country as a whole. How proud the political class must be of their accomplishments?

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WETHEPEOPLE 4 years, 6 months ago

I advise the Bahamain people to thread carefully with the implementation of any foreign management company running any government entitity, especially eletricity, water, and communications and heres the obvious reasons why. We all know that BEC has been missmanaged for years and years, from wasted overtime pay, to outdated equipment, and to just bad management solely. So now its the intent of the people to fix this years old problem by simply bringing in a management company! Firstly no company would untertake this venture without being sure that their ability to make money was first and foremost. Dont assume BPL is doing the Bahamian people some service, as they are not, and I assure you they will be paid first before anything positive really happens for the Bahamas. Your relying on a foreign company to decide whats best suited for the Bahamian people. 200million on Generators? where will this money come from? We will have to borrow it which means more debt, which in turns means more taxes on us to service this debt. This is how foreign corporations take over entire countries! The country becomes so in debt, that they cant afford to service it, eventually the dollar is devalued, whatever resources we have are raped for little or nothing. Keep in mind when we borrow money it comes with certain restrictions and conditions suggested by the lender.(thats how vat eventually came about). its 2016, why would you spend 200million on generators, when if you must borrow that sum of money, invest it into renewable energy, so that our kids kids dont find themselves in this same problem. We need to recognise the times we live and must truly be progressive if we are to survive.

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