Residents react to rise in Grand Bahama Power fuel rate

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.

Grand Bahama Power Company headquarters.


Tribune Freeport Reporter


THE announcement of a rate hike by the Grand Bahama Power Company was received with mixed reactions by some residents on the island.

While some residents said people should consider adjusting their spending, others complained that the increase does not come at the right time because people in Grand Bahama are still recovering from the pandemic and Hurricane Dorian.

In an official statement released on Monday, the Grand Bahama Power Company announced that as of next month it will increase its fuel charge from ten cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 11.5 cents.

The company explained that the increase is a “direct reflection of the rise in global oil prices over the year.”

Grand Bahama Minister Ginger Moxey, MP for Pineridge, on Monday told reporters that she did not support the rate hike.

Yesterday, The Tribune spoke with several Grand Bahama residents.

A young wife and mother-to-be chalked the situation up to being beyond consumers’ control.

She and others who commented on the situation requested anonymity.

“On hearing about it and the reason for the hike,” she said, “It is beyond our control. When you hear things like that, it makes me want to budget more closely and be careful with spending, especially in the store. It can be challenging, but at the same time, my husband and I count our blessings and trust in the Lord.”

She told this newspaper that she was sympathetic to other people who continue to struggle with the cost of living.

“You must adjust your living. Of course, you want to be comfortable, but at the same time things are beyond our control.”

A concerned resident of West Grand Bahama does not support it, especially now.

“I think Freeport is in such a depressed state, and with the Grand Bahama Power Company going up on fuel charges now is not the right thing to do,” the resident said.

“We still have a lot of people from three years ago that were affected by Dorian and the pandemic. They have not been able to move back in their homes, and it is really hard, and it is going to be much harder on them.”

Another resident of Freeport agreed that it is not the right time.

He added: “I don’t think it is the right time because of COVID and the hurricane. I think they should give people some more time. The economy needs to be built up some more, and so, I think they should do it later.”

A Freeport business owner and resident said that Freeport is supposed to be a tax-free haven.

“The power increase is just ridiculous,” she said. “If you were bragging about the money you made when you had all that profits years ago, and then turn around and want to tax us because you had damage from the hurricane. Didn’t you have insurance?”

As for global oil prices, the resident further stated: “The other day they had oil prices where they were begging you to take oil. They actually paid you to have oil. Didn’t they put any oil in their reserves? Did they not plan for the future? They had no money where they could not do something in advance?

They could have done a better job, I don’t care how you put it,” she said.

“To keep taxing and taxing what is supposed to be a tax-free haven does not make a bit of sense. Right now, we are paying ridiculous prices,” she lamented.

“Every year the power goes up around Christmas time although some of us have no Christmas tree, no lights, and nothing new, but our power goes up. It is like they are wishing for the amount of money they want in the bank and charge us accordingly.”

Another male resident complained that the cost of living continues to increase.

“It is ridiculous to me,” he said of the rate hike. “It is far beyond the average person’s budget around here, and you are talking about another hike again? Hike the minimum wage to $350 - that will work,” he said.

A retired resident also recalled that there was a tax for the repair of destruction after Hurricane Matthew.

“Has that tax been removed, or has it continued for Hurricane Dorian? We never seem to get updates about the dropping of these rate hikes, only increases,” the resident said.

“I don’t mind temporary hikes for the greater good, but they should be monitored and reduced when the crisis abates.”

Grand Bahama Power Company CEO Nikita Mullings has indicated that the company was able to protect its customers from global price volatility as the cost of oil increases this year because of its fuel hedging programme, which started in 2014.

The company has reported that 80 percent of the fuel purchased by GBPC is hedged.


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