By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Regulators have held internal discussions on whether to review Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) fuel charge to ensure it is “fair” to Bahamian consumers.
Stephen Bereaux, the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority’s (URCA) chief executive, told a Wednesday night town hall meeting: “That is not something in our plan but is something that has certainly been a discussion within URCA; as to what has been the impact on your pockets as members of the public, and to what extent is that impact justifiable.
“It is very much a matter we are considering including in our annual plan. URCA has a role to ensure that the fuel charge is fair. If we decide to go that route it’s a significant project. If we go that route the fuel charge will have to be adjusted regardless of what we find. If people feel the issue of the fuel charge, and the impact of the fires on the fuel charge may have been unfair, we can assess it and we can include it in our plan.”
A report on the police investigation into a series of fires that crippled the most efficient generation assets at BPL’s Clifton Pier power plant has already been completed and submitted to the government, the utility’s chairman, Dr Donovan Moxey, told The Tribune back in February.
The first fire broke out at the plant around 10.30pm on Friday, September 7, and the second blaze erupted on Sunday, September 9, shortly before 10pm. Two more fires occurred over the course of the following week; one at the Clifton site, and the other at BPL’s Blue Hills location.
The first blaze forced a week-long load shedding exercise in the capital, and resulted in an urgent appeal from BPL to the public for energy conservation to assist the electricity provider in meeting energy demands.
Whitney Heastie, BPL’s chief executive, previously told Tribune Business that the blazes had further hiked electricity bills by depriving BPL of its two most efficient generation units. Those engines, which typically generate 25 percent of New Providence’s energy supply, not only use lower-cost heavy fuel oil (HFO) but also generate more energy per oil barrel than any others in BPL’s fleet.