By Denise Maycock
Tribune Freeport Reporter
SOME 300 letters of support signed by residents of West and East Grand Bahama were delivered on Friday by the Coalition of Concerned Citizens to the Office of the Prime Minister in Freeport calling for government intervention in lowering the cost of the energy in those outlying areas.
Pastor Eddie Victor, president of CCC, said the letters are addressed to Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama; West Grand Bahama MP Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, and Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson.
In their letters, the residents are asking the government not to renew the West End and East End agreements with the Grand Bahama Power Company that expired in the latter part of this year.
They want government to approve the application of developers who propose to build a firm solar power plant in East and West Grand Bahama that they say will lower the cost of power by 30 percent to 40 percent.
Pastor Victor said so far they have collected 301 letters, and many more are expected to come in. Copies of the letters also will be sent to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis, he said.
“This is the first batch of letters; there are hundreds of more letters coming in and as we collect those we forward them to MP in West GB, the DPM Peter Turnquest, MP for East GB,” Mr Victor said.
The CCC has been conducting town meetings in West and East Grand Bahama throughout the year, not only to hear the concerns of residents but to share with them information concerning a new solar power company that could reduce the cost of power.
“We asked the public to participate in the process of conveying to the government the need to bring down the cost of electricity. We ask our citizens to sign letters of support,” Pastor Victor said.
The letters also state that a new power company should be granted a licence and be allowed to construct new power plants in West and East Grand Bahama, and that any new power company being approved and licenced should be majority Bahamian owned, and that all power companies in West and East Grand Bahama should be regulated by the Utilities Regulatory and Competition Authority (URCA).
Pastor Victor noted that pastors in the various communities are assisting in getting the letters signed by residents and collected for the CCC. The CCC has been advocating and campaigning for lower power rates for the past five years. Members have held a public protest, marches, boycotts, and rallies against the Grand Bahama Power Company.
“We are petitioning the government to intervene in the energy sector in Grand Bahama. We ask them to bring down the cost of electricity on this island because we have been paying excessively high electricity rates for years,” he stressed. “It has affected, and it also resulted in hundreds of people living without power on the island. It also caused hardship on businesses to the point where many have closed,” he added.
Pastor Victor said that the CCC supports the solar power project by Northern Bahamas Utilities, a 100 percent Bahamian owned power company, that has applied to the government to build $30 million solar power plants in West and East Grand Bahama. The application is still awaiting approval by the government.
He noted that NBU proposed to bring down the cost of power by 33 percent to 40 percent in the respective areas. “This company is 100 percent Bahamian owned. The principals are qualified engineers who are all former employees of the GB Power Company who had served in many levels of the company. The collective experience of the principals amount to 106 years of experience in power generation and transmission distribution.”