By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light's (BPL) chairman yesterday pledged it is "looking at all options" to secure cheaper fuel sources amid fierce consumer criticism of high electricity bills.
Dr Donovan Moxey told Tribune Business: "We are looking at all options in order to alleviate the issue of having the expensive fuels to generate power for us at this time. That is what we are looking at."
He added that the monopoly energy provider has had to rely more on its Blue Hills plant, and more expensive fuel, to meet New Providence's electricity needs due to recent fires that knocked out two of its most efficient generation units at the Clifton power plant.
"Obviously for us the first step is to make an assessment of the units and determine whether they can be adequately repaired and brought back into service. We are looking at all of our options right now. I would rather not go into details," Dr Moxey said of the blaze-damaged generators.
He recently conceded that increased dependence on BPL's Blue Hills power station, which uses a more expensive fuel in ADO (diesel oil), has added to the recent spike in customer electricity bills.
Aggreko also provides 80 megawatts (MW) of temporary generation at BPL's Blue Hills plant, and Dr Moxey said the utility has had to acquire a further ten MW of expensive diesel-burning units from the same supplier.
"We are using all of those available resources at Blue Hills. With that, Agrekko has units that they bring in and out of The Bahamas, sometimes just under maintenance," Dr Moxey said. "The question was asked by them: Should they shift the assets off the island, or should we keep them just in case.
"Our position is we don't know what is going to happen, and just in case we need those units we asked them to hold on to the units in New Providence. That's where that sits. The arrangement we have with them is we only pay for what we use; that's it.
"Those units are stand-by units because the question could be asked: Do people want to get electricity, even though they are paying a higher fuel cost, or do we want to load shed because we don't have enough capacity. Our position is we want to make sure we have enough capacity on the ground in the event we need to use it."
The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) president, Paul Maynard, yesterday suggested that with BPL's relationship with Shell North America further solidified via the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a multi-fuel power plant, the utility should seek cheaper fuel through the energy giant in the interim.
"I would say to Shell: Listen, you have me for all these years with this LNG project, let's work something out in the meantime'. They could sit down and try to get cheaper fuel. Bills have increased and this LNG plant is not going to be online until 2022. What's going to happen in the interim?" Mr Maynard asked.
"Shell is a big player in the fuel business. Sit down and work something out to get some cheaper fuel. The people are suffering."