Bpl Boss Insists It’S Getting Better

BPL CEO Pamela Hill.

BPL CEO Pamela Hill.


Tribune Staff Reporter


BAHAMAS Power & Light CEO Pamela Hill yesterday defended the company’s $1.1m performance bonus under the former Christie administration, pointing to “step by step improvements” and “higher reliability” of BPL’s services as justification for the controversial incentive.

Ms Hill, in an interview with reporters, suggested although the million-dollar bonus does seem like a “strange animal” considering BPL’s ongoing struggles to consistently keep the lights on, the utility provider has “worked to make sure that there have been improvements in the company over the past year.”

Ms Hill acknowledged that while the company has been experiencing “some maintenance issues” lately, which have affected multiple islands in the country inclusive of Abaco, Bimini, Exuma and New Providence, BPL officials are “working very diligently in order to be able to resolve them.”

And when asked if she were concerned if the Minnis administration would not seek to renew PowerSecure’s contract to manage the government-owned utility provider due to its performance to date, Ms Hill said: “We are not focused on any such thing.”

She added: “My focus entirely is on the three things that I know our customers are focused on, and that’s around improving the reliability, the affordability and the customer service aspect of our product. And everything else is really not core to our mission, to our mission here at the company.”

When asked about the matter of the bonus yesterday, Ms Hill insisted that while none of BPL’s issues will be resolved in an “overnight fashion,” there have been “overall improvements” in BPL’s reliability and efficiency to date.

She pointed to the acquisition of an additional 40 megawatts of rental power generation in New Providence and “new generation” on some Family Islands as initiatives that have “helped to improve our reliability.”

“As we think about how generation works and the entire value proposition that our customers see when it comes to what it is that they’re expecting, they expect reliability, they expect affordability, they expect customer services,” she said, on the sidelines of a Rotary Club of East Nassau event.

“We have seen higher reliability. I know that’s always tough to have something to compare it against because really the ultimate comparison is no outages, not anywhere, not anytime, not more than a second if they occur. And of course, we have outages that are longer than that. So by that metric it does seem as a strange animal, as it were.

“However, when we think about the overall improvements, the step by step improvements that have been made to the company, I think that the value proposition has been there for our customers and we look forward to having earnest dialogue around hard topics like rate adjustment so that we are able to pursue even more on behalf of our customers.”

BPL has come under fire for its performance bonus of $1.1m under the last PLP regime, despite a widespread feeling of dissatisfaction amongst Bahamian consumers with the company’s performance thus far.

Sources familiar with the initial talks between the former government and PowerSecure previously told Tribune Business that the latter’s compensation for managing BPL had been capped at $5m per annum.

They added that $2m was guaranteed, with the remaining $3m contingent on the US energy services provider hitting a series of performance related goals, such as reliability, efficiency and profitability.

Since taking the helm, however, PowerSecure’s efforts at restructuring the cash-strapped utility provider has been marred by island-wide power outages in the capital, and on some Family Islands. Light bills have also increased under PowerSecure’s management.

As a result, both Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest and former Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller have spoken out against the reported bonus, with the former calling it “inconsistent with the desire for improved results” in electricity service for Bahamian consumers.

Ms Hill also addressed the recent wave of power outages that have plagued several islands in the country, some of which have adversely affected the tourism product in those areas.

Recently, Exuma and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper called the frequent power outages affecting Exuma an “untenable” situation that is frustrating both residents and visitors.

“…We are having some maintenance issues and working very diligently in order to be able to resolve them,” she said. “Bimini and the issue that we had is essentially the submarine cable that services the customers that are in Alice Town as well as the Hilton resort. So we had our folks really working around the clock in order to diagnose the problem, to identify precisely where along the cable the fault was occurring, to bring in the necessary materials and then to make the repairs.

“So that’s something that we are keenly aware of and focused on. Around Exuma and Abaco the outages have been not related to the submarine side since that is not as much an issue there, but really around the major maintenance of the units and the need for making improvements in how those are essentially structured.

“And so we are working diligently as we have those outages sometimes they’re related to a car that’s hit a pole, other times they’re related to a (transmission and distribution) outage that triggers the generator to trip. But we have our folks in Nassau who have been flying over to Abaco as well as to the Exumas to lend support.”

In March, Ms Hill expressed optimism that the company will be able to meet generation demands heading into the summer peak season. At the time, Ms Hill said she felt “very good about the level of work that our employees have conducted and our ability to be ready for the summer.”


Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 9 months ago

Ms Hill, we, the Bahamian people would like for you to disclose the total amount that was paid by the corrupt Christie-led PLP government to PowerSecure in connection with all of its trucks with lifts, other equipment and foreign personnel brought to New Providence, for a temporary period, to assist in restoring our electrical power grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. We have a right to know all amounts paid to PowerSecure as the U.S. company contracted to manage BPL. When on the campaign trail, Dr. Minnis said time and time again that a new FNM government led by him as PM would set the gold standard in transparency for the benefit of the Bahamian people.


John 2 years, 9 months ago

"In March, Ms Hill expressed optimism that the company will be able to meet generation demands heading into the summer peak season. At the time, Ms Hill said she felt “very good about the level of work that our employees have conducted and our ability to be ready for the summer.”

I don't think the outages are as bad as last year. We were experiencing 5 and 6 outages a day last year and could not use our computers at the offices. This year it averages 2-3 a week. What really needs to happen is BPL needs to started installing upgraded and more efficient equipment. That is when the country will really see more reliable power generation and a cleaner more affordable product. Most other prices are driven by the cost of electricity and once electricity comes down, most other prices will follow.


Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 9 months ago

The government has already assumed $500 million plus of BPL/BEC's liabilities, which for all intents and purposes has effectively been added to our national debt. But our government meanwhile remains the most delinquent customer of BPL/BEC with mega-millions of dollars of receivables on BPL/BEC's books relating to government departments, agencies and corporations. If we, the people, don't pay our light bill, we have to go without lights. But not so in the case of our government. Much of the so called "fuel surcharge" is therefore a tax imposed on us by our government simply because cash that BPL/BEC should be receiving from our government must instead be collected from us. The government must start paying its own light bills rather than pushing that cost on the people as an additional hidden tax.


DDK 2 years, 9 months ago

Right again, Mudda. All Government offices use electricity exactly as thought it IS free. Air-conditioning is run at practically sub-zero temperatures 24/7/365. Huge lights are left burning during the day outside of the power facilities and offices. I believe The People should be privy to a list of BEC delinquent bills and their amounts, including those of the Government agencies and corporations.


Bigbellyboy 2 years, 9 months ago

I don't live in Nassau so i'm unaware of all these money issues. I can tell you however I work in heavy industry and I was visiting Nassau a short time ago. The power supply failed at night in a storm. I was amazed at the speed of the power company's response and the professionalism of the workers who showed up. They worked non stop until the power was restored--quite a few hours. So from that standpoint I have to say your power company definitely impressed me. Be glad for what you have. Where I live the power might never have been restored.


sealice 2 years, 9 months ago

it's getting better for her she got that fat raise to sit around and tawk shcit to us.... like we supposed to believe it... that crap the PLP had musse contagious....


Reality_Check 2 years, 9 months ago

As said by @Mudda above: "When on the campaign trail, Dr. Minnis said time and time again that a new FNM government led by him as PM would set the gold standard in transparency for the benefit of the Bahamian people." With that in mind, Minnis and KP should come clean with the people and disclose to us the total amount currently owed by all government departments, agencies and corporations to BPL/BEC. We want some of that sunshine that Minnis repeatedly assured us we would get if he became PM. Continuing to keep us in the dark (no pun intended) by not releasing this information makes our new FNM government no better than the corrupt Christie-led one that we recently gave the boot to.


Sickened 2 years, 9 months ago

I want to see the contract that was signed with BPL that stipulates exactly what targets need to be met in order to get a bonus.

Full disclosure PLEASE Mr. Minnis!!! Table the damn contract!


DDK 2 years, 9 months ago

What a crock of the brown stuff. Nothing has improved. Receipt of power has decreased while bills have increased. BONUS? How %*"=!@'<{ING sick and underserved. Please get rid of these people. Disclose the agreement. It's The People's right to see it. Where's the sunshine on this one? Why are we being kept in the dark? WHY are we RENTING generators? Surely not from Power Secure? Why do we have a fuel surcharge higher than the rate itself? Fuel is cheaper than it has been for years. Why not adjust the rate to a reasonable one and eliminate the surcharge AND the VAT? Why not credit consumers for destroyed appliances and equipment? Why not credit consumers for periods without power? Why give these non-Bahamian non-performers a bloody bonus?


TalRussell 2 years, 9 months ago

Comrade Tarzan, how's the Privatizing of Freeport Power working out for Freeporters residential and commercial monthly lights and air-conditioning bills?
In fact while we're at it - how did Sir Stafford's and Wallace Groves privatization comprising entire Freeport lands area work out for Grand Bahamalanders?


Economist 2 years, 9 months ago

Tal, the power reliability in Freeport was, and still is relatively good. It has been very good since Hurricane Mathew.

The power bills did come down as the reduction of the cost of fuel was passed on to the consumer.

In all, the privately run power in Grand Bahama can run circles around Nassau, especially if you live in the eastern part of New Providence.

So to answer your question, it has worked very well.


Reality_Check 2 years, 9 months ago

If privatization means transferring ownership to the Bahamian public and then raising the necessary capital to upgrade the system, with suitable protections against any one Bahamian or group of Bahamians (including brokerage houses) somehow acquiring a controlling stake or significantly influential interest, then fine, let's do it. But let's face it, our local capital markets probably can't pull this off. One thing is for sure though, we don't want foreign enterprises to own our country's electrical power generating plants and grid system. Just look at what's happened in Grand Bahama!


alfalfa 2 years, 9 months ago

If things are really going so well for BPL, I wonder why it is rumored that Kevin Basden is returning as GM and Ms. Greene is returning next week. Is anyone going to be charged with the missing millions? Seems as if the company is moving back through a time warp, to a point of no return.


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