By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
BAHAMAS Power & Light (BPL) has executed an engagement letter with Credit Suisse for the provision of up to $100 million in interim financing, the Minister of Works said yesterday.
Desmond Bannister, making his contribution to the mid-year Budget debate, said: “We expect to be able to apply funds to improve generation, transmission and distribution, and in developing the automated metering infrastructure.
“Once that infrastructure is put in place, consumers will be able to pay as they go, and BPL will no longer have to expend time and resources disconnecting and chasing down consumers who run up huge bills and then fail to pay.”
Mr Bannister said BPL was seeking to make better use of its financial assets, adding: “Approximately $22 million of the Sinking Fund monies that, under Power Secure, were placed as fixed deposits earning from 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent interest annually, are now placed in Bahamas Government Registered Stock, yielding between 3.1 per cent and 4.75 per cent, which amounts to approximately $600,000 semi-annually.
“BPL has also restructured its bonds so that the existing loans that are secured by Government guarantee are intended to be paid from Rate Reduction Bonds, for which the mechanism will be put in place during the second quarter 2018.
Several world-class financial institutions have expressed their interest in participating in the process.”
Mr Bannister said preparations are underway to ensure BPL is ready for the summer season and able meet peak demand.
“The islands of Bimini, Abaco, Exuma and New Providence will be targeted for special attention before June,” he emphasised.
“However, I hasten to advise that generation capacity audits are being conducted of all Family Island locations and will be completed by March 30 this year. Bimini and other islands may require back-up generation during the summer, and accordingly a transmission and distribution evaluation was conducted in both Abaco and Bimini. We want to ensure that BPL is at its best this summer.
“An amazing amount of work has also been done in New Providence. At the Clifton Pier powerstation BPL seeks to ensure stability amidst growing demands. Accordingly, BPL has overhauled a number of generators, and taken preventative action, and will continue to overhaul others to ensure that they are able to meet the rising system demand.”
Mr Bannister added: “At the Blue Hills power station, one critical generator is currently under major inspection. The work is expected to be completed by April 26.
Additionally, the leases of the 80 MW of rental units have been extended at a savings in excess of $5 million to the Bahamian people, and their use will be further extended to ensure reliability for the peak summer demand.”