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40% Of Users Disconnected Now Hook Up Illegally

By TANEKA THOMPSON 

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

NEARLY half of Bahamas Power and Light’s disconnected customers are reconnected illegally by paying “bribes” to employees, a problem officials are hoping to rectify by launching a new automated system within a year, BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne told The Tribune.

Ms Osborne said she could not quantify the financial loss to BPL from the illegal hook ups, but said it is “significant.”

“Forty per cent of disconnected customers at BPL are reconnected unauthorised (by) paying off people,” she told The Tribune. “We are planning for this year, a software system called Advanced Metering Infrastructure, the AMI Project. What that will do is be a critical tool in terms of cracking down on the ability to have unauthorised reconnections based on bribes for reconnections of that sort.”

She said based on the current system, employees performing the illegal connections are rarely caught by officials. Thus, the problem has been allowed to flourish.

“Sometimes (we catch them) but because the system is old and labour intensive, it’s not caught (frequently),” she said.

She said with automation and a more advanced system, it will be easier to track who is disconnected from the grid and if they are put back on the system illegally and by whom.

The proposed AMI system is a priority item on BPL’s capital projects agenda.

In September 2014, then Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller told the House of Assembly the state-owned utility provider lost $5m to $7m per year due to illegal hook ups.

BPL has grabbed headlines over the past few months after it was revealed police were investigating a theft of some $2m from the company.

Ernst and Young was contracted to perform an audit into the scheme, initially said to be a five-month long fraud.

In 2016, the Christie administration signed a management services with American company PowerSecure to manage the electricity provider.

BPL then became a wholly owned subsidiary of BEC.

Comments

DDK 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I wonder if it ever occurred to BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne that those BEC personnel responsible for this illegal act should be terminated?

On another note, when do we learn whether the various government departments are paying their bills to BEC? I suspect they are not. Government staff have long gone to work during the day in sweaters and jackets in the middle of the sweltering summers and the air-conditioning is left piping all night long. It is all part of the misplaced feeling of entitlement and total lack of responsibility for the country that pays the salaries of the civil servants.

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tell_it_like_it_is 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Hold on though... this BEC official seems like they are speaking with pride about the 40% paying bribes to staff! What kind of lousy management is this? What other sensible company in The Bahamas will sit idly by and allow almost half their revenue to be siphoned away by CRIMINAL employees. AM I MISSING SOMETHING HERE?

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John 2 months, 3 weeks ago

I saw the police came and put some people out of their apartment for non payment of rent. Court ordered eviction The evicted tenants just took their clothes and left everything else in the yard where it was put. They just didn't have anywhere to take their furniture. Eventually people came through the night and toted off most of the stuff. The rain came and destroyed what was left. So now a family must start ove with only the clothes on their backs. Electricity is still a luxury for many.

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Naughtydread 2 months, 3 weeks ago

So what do you suggest John, that the landlord just allow these people to live in their apartment rent free? What exactly are you getting at? The days of handouts are over, in order to thrive one must actually work and pay their bills.

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TheMadHatter 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Women should not be allowed to enter the PMH delivery ward unless they can show a bank letter where they have $20,000 in a fixed deposit account. Can't afford to have children? Don't have them. I can't afford to buy a Rolles Royce? Do I have one? No I do not.

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proudloudandfnm 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Between the elite list and this it's no wonder Nassau's electricity supply is so incredibly unreliable.

Sad thing is it looks like the new government isn't the least bit concerned in stabilising Nassau's power supply. You guys are going to be dealing with this for years.....

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baldbeardedbahamian 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This is just too funny, I am going to sell my shares in BPL, Oh, that's right, I can't 'cos my government owns then for me. Can we drain even more money from the NIB investment fund to buy them a new decent generator to play with? The current toys are getting old and worn out. I heard that there is a French firm that makes generators and also gives decent sized kickbacks.

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TalRussell 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrades! Abacoians not wanting be left out - bumped into the previous red shirts man's to occupy the PMO - Papa Hubert's $105 million BEC's Wilson City, Abaco power plant?

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SP 2 months, 3 weeks ago

If BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne can determine that NEARLY half of Bahamas Power and Light’s disconnected customers are reconnected illegally by paying “bribes” to employees, it should be a no-brainer to figure out which employees are being illegally paid to turn peoples power back on!

Perry Christie and V. Alfred Gray can solve this "mystery" even without the AMI Project.

Where's the confusion on who to hold accountable? These people should be charged and terminated.

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The_Oracle 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Isn't making money on the side a negotiated Union perk? Are we that endemically crooked?

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TheMadHatter 2 months, 3 weeks ago

There is NO SOLUTION because the cost of power is simply too high. Successive governments have failed to make that guy (you know the Facebook guy who has the answers to how to have cheap electricity) become Minister of Energy.

Until GW is made Minister of Energy - all of these articles are just a waste of time. Basically, shut up and pay ya high bill or ya light ga turn off. Otherwise do a march on Bay St. and demand his appointment.

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ohdrap4 2 months, 3 weeks ago

solar energy IS NOT CHEAP.

it is cheap to obtAIN, it is very, very expensive to store.

that is why people cannot go solar.

to solarize a home would cost about 5-10 years electricity bill upfront plus the coasts of system maintenance.

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TheMadHatter 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Ohdrap.....what about the LNG barge to tie in to PI Bridge junction? He has a lot more solutions than just solar. What about stopping the tens of thousands of gallons of fuel oil that simply drain into the ocean every month? What about getting our real generators working instead of using more expensive diesel half the time? What about doing electricity repairs between 9am & 5pm if the break then...instead of a break at 10am having to wait until 6pm to fix so we pay overtime surcharge? What about......? Wait. Im not getting paid a CEO salary. Let me be quiet. Besides, you've already been convinced there are no alternatives.

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ohdrap4 2 months, 3 weeks ago

re: the electricity repairs: GR is not the only one who noticed it, this is the same crew who connects people illegally and causes outage every time they want an increase, maybe some someone will start going after the thugs, they too rob the people.

as to these other solutions, if i were a genius, i would not be using talk shows as a platform, one is known by the company they keep, and the talk shows attract the unemployed insane.

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242gyal 2 months, 3 weeks ago

BPL Chairwoman Darnell Osborne seems to know this is a problem and let she and all the management at BPL/BEC has allowed money to be left on the table by corrupt, thieving employees. Management and board should all be fired. Immediately. Stop taking food outta my children's mouths. Convict. Give a s$@t about regular Bahamians who do pay their bills (and have to work extra hard and long to do it).

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sheeprunner12 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Who illegally re-connects a disconnected BPL customer?????? ....... the customer or a BPL worker?????? ........... that should be investigated thoroughly and measures put in place to punish the parties concerned.

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