Parties united against GBPC rate rise

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.


Tribune Freeport Reporter


DESPITE regulatory approval for a rate increase in the cost of electricity in Grand Bahama, the government and the official opposition do not believe it is a good time as the island’s economy is still struggling to recover.

On Monday, the Grand Bahama Port Authority announced it has approved Grand Bahama Power Company’s rate case application for a base rate increase of 3.3 percent as opposed to 6.3 percent initially proposed for residential and commercial customers. The increase would take effect on April 1.

This comes after a 45-day public consultation exercise conducted by GBPA, in its regulatory capacity.

In a statement released by the government yesterday, it was noted that a Cabinet committee was formed shortly after the filing of the rate adjustment in September 2021, comprising Ministers Obediah Wilchcombe, Alfred Sears, Michael Darville, Ryan Pinder and Ginger Moxey.

“The committee engaged with both the regulator, GBPA and the utility company, and the GBPC, to advocate for the residents and businesses of Grand Bahama at a time when the impact of Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 is still evident,” according to the statement.

“From the outset, the committee issued a strong response to the initial filing of the application and clearly stated that the Davis administration does not support any rate increase on any portion of the customer base on Grand Bahama Island.

“Since this time, the committee met with both the GBPA and GBPC and emphatically reiterated the government’s position that this is not the time for an increase in power rate, especially in light that residents and businesses are still trying to rebuild.”

Despite the approved increase being lower than what was initially proposed, the government said “any increase is difficult for the many residents and businesses still struggling to survive”.

There has been mixed reactions to the increase by some businesspersons and residents. One Grand Bahama business owner called it “wicked” while another said he was not concerned about it.

“At a time when things are so bad, they are finishing putting their foot on people’s faces and at the end of the year they brag about the profits they are making,” said a restaurant owner who did not want to be identified.

“It is a horrible idea,” said another resident. “I don’t understand why we pay more here in Freeport than in Nassau.”

A businessman in the light industrial sector was not bothered at all by the increase.

“I don’t see nothing wrong about a 3.3 percent increase in the base rate,” he said. “That is not going to have any affect on most businesses in the grand scheme of things.”

He noted his power bills have been consistent from month to month. When asked whether he had solar panels installed at his business, he said that it is something that he is thinking about doing.

“I am considering getting solar to eliminate my power bill. I don’t think we would even notice it (the increase).”

Meanwhile, the opposition Free National Movement expressed its disapproval of the decision to approve the rate increase.

“Grand Bahamians in the last few months have had to endure increased VAT costs on breadbasket items and medication, increased inflation causing a rise in the cost of living and the increase in construction costs with VAT now added to construction services. The GBPA has approved the rate case application that will increase electricity costs by 3.3 percent,” the FNM said.

The party stated that while the regulator claims to have conducted public consultation, the majority of Grand Bahamians were not able to have their views heard.

“In addition, the vast majority of Grand Bahamians that had the opportunity were absolutely opposed to any rate increase at this time,” according to the statement.

The party noted that Grand Bahama’s economy continues to struggle through post-storm recovery that requires new and increased investments. It claimed one of the largest impediments to investments has been the cost of electricity in Grand Bahama.

“This decision is counter-productive and will make it even more difficult to attract and expand investments. While we are sympathetic to the economic plight of GBPC, we are even more mindful of the struggling residents and businesses fighting their own economic challenges and this increase will only be another blow to the island’s recovery,” the party said.

Meanwhile, GBPC said it was pleased to receive a response from the regulator on its September 2021 rate filing.

The company said the base rate adjustment approved by the GBPA of an increase of 3.3 percent will have a varying impact on customers depending on customer class and energy consumption. Also approved, it said, was the establishment of a new tier of customers, representing about 20 percent of the residential customer base that consume 200kWh or less per month.

“GBPC’s monthly bills encompass base rate and fuel charge rate,” said Nikita Mullings, the utility’s chief operating officer. “The total monthly energy bills will increase by two percent to 2.5 percent depending on consumption levels. For the average residential customer, this represents about $3.50 per month.”

Ms Mullings pointed out that those residential customers who consume up to 200kWh per month – those who fall in the new efficient user tier – will see no increase in their rate.

“Further, residential customers consuming 201 to 350 kWh will see an increase of one percent or less. These two classes of customers represent 42 percent of our residential customer base and will experience a total increase of one percent or less, translating to under $1 per month,” she explained.

GBPC said that it will take the opportunity, between now and April 1, when the new rates come into effect, to deliver a robust energy efficiency programme to guide customers in managing electricity use and minimising monthly energy costs.


DWW 2 years, 3 months ago

what a wonderful show of caring for the people. a 2.5% increase while the entire economic world has undergone a 10% general inflation during 2021. we gat sum smart people here, why the DOW and nasdaq dont go to GB for economic advice. cant create electricity out of air unless you have one of those amazing perpetual motion machines from the internets LOL


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