By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Electrical Workers Union president Paul Maynard believes Bahamas Power and Light customers will pay more than the predicted increase of $20 to $30 per month on their bills next year.
Mr Maynard said that the government is in a difficult position and while officials are forecasting electricity bills to increase between $20 and $30 – he does not see this happening.
“I think it is more difficult than it seems. People will be paying more than that $30. BEC has $120 million of collectibles owed to them. They are trying to finance $650 million through the rate reduction bonds and the customers paying the fee for the bond. There are some people not paying their (electricity) bill now, that means me and you as customers who pay our bill end up paying for those who are not paying,” said Mr Maynard.
He added: “There are some 120,000 customers, so these customers have their $30 plus interest that have to go to the bank each month. And if there are some 50,000 people who are not paying their bills, the rest of the consumers have to pay for that, so the fees will be spread among those paying.”
Last week, the House of Assembly passed the Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill to allow for the government to issue a rate reduction bond fee to be paid by Bahamas Power and Light customers – increasing monthly bills by about $30. This legislation comes as a bail-out to “cash strapped” BPL for the refinancing of some $650 million necessary to repay debt owed to local banks amounting to $320 million and for desperate upgrades. On December 15, the new $90 million-dollar Wartsila power plant engines, which is being tested now, are expected to be in operation. The new Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill 2019, similar to the Rate Reduction Act 2015 requires every BPL customer by law to pay the rate reduction bond fee.