By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce’s (GBCC) president yesterday voiced hope for a “quick and amicable” resolution to the Grand Bahama Power Company’s (GBPC) theft claims.
Greg LaRoda told Tribune Business the matter was discussed when the chamber met yesterday, adding: “We are concerned.” He said: “We plan to put together an official release. I can tell you that we obviously can’t take sides with anyone in this. We are monitoring it. It obviously looks like it is something that could end up before the courts.
“We want to see it resolved in the shortest possible time as it does have the potential to negatively impact the economy of the island because it does involve some major businesses. We don’t want it to get to that. We want to see it resolved amicably between all the parties, and we are encouraging them to continue the open dialogue and try to bring it to a quick resolution.
“We have been closely monitoring it and we are concerned. We don’t have enough information to draw any conclusions on any side as to who may be at fault, but we just want to see it resolved in the best interest of all concerned.
GB Power reported on Wednesday that power supply had been restored at several businesses in Freeport following an investigation it had conducted into a “fake” energy saving device that was allegedly sold to many business owners and residents on Grand Bahama by a local contractor.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), GB Power’s regulator, confirmed it had also launched an independent investigation into the ongoing allegations. “The Grand Bahama Port Authority wishes to advise the public that, as regulators, we were notified by the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) that during a course of their recent meter audit, they discovered a number of suspected electricity diversions at several businesses within the Port Area,” it said.
“As a result, we immediately began our own independent investigation into this matter which is currently ongoing. Thus far, we can confirm that all of the work performed by the licensee was unpermitted and was executed outside the scope of the license.”
The spotlight was initially placed on the Cooper family, the owners of Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Pollo Tropical franchises in Grand Bahama, after GB Power cut their electricity for almost an entire week. The Cooper family has “categorically and emphatically” denied any wrongdoing concerning the electricity theft allegations.
GB Power, which may have lost millions of dollars, has described the alleged “energy saving devices” at the centre of its probe as “fake”, adding that the electricity cost reductions at premises where they had been installed were only achieved by bypassing or tampering with the meter.