NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After a more than three-month suspension of disconnections, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) announced yesterday it will begin removing certain consumers from the grid for failure to pay their bills.
BPL said customers with a balance in arrears of $500 or more for over 90 days before April 1, could be “immediately disconnected”.
“Any customer with a balance more than 90 days in arrears since April 1, 2020, have 21 days or until 28 July 2020, to bring their accounts current, or to enroll in a payment plan. After that, they will be eligible for disconnection,” the power company said in a statement.
BPL said customers enrolled in its COVID-19 relief program have 21 days — until July 28 — to bring their accounts up to current or to enroll in a payment plan.
“After that, they will be eligible for disconnection,” the power company said.
“BPL has made this decision after consultation with the government of The Bahamas.” It also said it was proceeding as per normal with its commercial consumers.
In March, BPL said it will immediately suspend disconnections until March 31 as thousands of Bahamians were forced to shelter in their homes amid a 24-hour lockdown and border shutdown.
However, upon the expiration, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said the power company had indefinitely suspended disconnections in light of the COVID-19.
He said BPL payments will be deferred for a three-month period for people who have been quarantined and people who had been laid off, provided documentation was provided to qualify for the deferral.
The disconnection notice prompted dozens of customers to express disdain.
Domini Ellis, a distressed customer who remains furloughed amid the pandemic, said the situation was sad.
“I don’t’ get to go back to work until October, so I can only pay what I have,” she said.
Sharika Gaitor said while it was understandable the people need to pay their bills, consumers experiencing hardship could be given more time — until the end of August — given the blow dealt by the ongoing pandemic, which brought The Bahamas economy to a standstill for months.
“You are cold and really don’t care about the people,” she wrote. “You need competition bad,” D’Angeria Taylor wrote.
She called on BPL to take into account the economic environment, adding that the National Insurance Board’s unemployment benefit to more than 50,000 people was “just enough for food; my God”.
Lakia Knowles added: “You’re just going to bring this out now? You know people still aren’t working right. NIB never mind. God help us because our country isn’t.