By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) is working to replicate Harbour Island’s newly-improved service reliability nationwide, its chief executive pledging: “We will get there”.
BPL unveiled its plan to provide a 6 Mega Watt (MW) power plant to address long-standing electricity concerns for the high-end tourist destination late last year, and the utility monopoly now views it as a model for what it wishes to achieve.
Pamela Hill, BPL’s chief executive, speaking on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the official launch of its brand,said: “One of the things we have done on the service front, when you look at Harbour Island, is we have put 6 MW of new generation there.
“I can tell you first-hand that our customers can see the reliability they have always hoped for, but haven’t been able to grab a hold of. Our goal for our other Family Islands as well as New Providence is to develop that same level of reliability and we will get there. We know that reliability is probably the biggest element of customer servicethat customers demand.”
Ms Hill added that BPL is moving forward with the small-scale renewable generation plan foreshadowed by the Utitlities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) back in December.
“Customers, especially our residential and small commercial customers, who already have solar on their home, have been benefiting from it but we haven’t been able to benefit in terms of being able to integrate that solar into our grid,” she sai
When questioned about the rate reduction bond (RRB) that is needed to refinance $650 million in legacy BEC debts and other liabilities, Ms Hill offered little despits its placement being key to the cash-strapped utility’s turnaround.
BPL and its manager, PowerSecure, are unable to implement their plans for turning around the struggling energy monopoly until its existing bank debtand bonds, plus pension and environmental liabilities, are refinanced.
This will be achieved by the issuance of the RRB to investors, which is intended to both repay BEC’s legacy debts and move them off its - and the Government’s - balance sheet.
“On the rate reduction front we look at that more than just from the bond perspective, but the fuel side of rates as well as the basic charge, which is what customers normally look at,”Ms Hill said.
“Our customers’ bills have come down since 12 months’ ago. The fuel charge was about half of the total rate, and is now about half as high as it used to be. We are going to continue to push to make sure that our generation is efficient so it can use less fuel and more cost effective fuel.”