Maynard: Shell is the answer to lowering power bills

Maynard: Shell is the answer to lowering power bills
Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard

Minnis says govt. will bring down cost of energy


NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard said yesterday that he does not believe the cost of power in The Bahamas will be reduced in the near future without an intervention by Shell North America.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis assured the Bahamian public last week that the government will bring down the cost of power. He did not commit to a timeframe, however.

“The only way the power can come down — fuel prices are dropping — but the only way the power can come down is if [the government] says to Shell, ‘listen, we need you to take this situation over’, and then maybe,” Maynard told Eyewitness News Online.

In the last month, global crude oil prices have dropped from around $80 per barrel to $55 per barrel.

The decrease has already been realized at the pump, with gas stations dropping the cost of fuel from over $5 per gallon to between $4.56 to $4.66 per gallon.

Global oil prices over the last several months and Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) increased reliance on its Blue Hills power plant has been attributed to the increased cost in fuel surcharge — a cost passed directly onto consumers.

The Blue Hills power plant uses more expensive diesel fuel.

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister revealed in Parliament last month that four of the nine generators at the Clifton Pier Power Station were out of commission.

Two of them remained in the hands of insurers following several fires at Clifton in September.

The average BPL consumer experienced a 45 per cent increase in their power bills between October 2017 and October 2018, according to data provided by BPL.

There has been a widespread outcry about the high cost of light bills.

Shell recently signed an agreement with BPL to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant for New Providence.

The company opened office in Lyford Cay House last Tuesday.

Its principals have said Shell’s presence in The Bahamas means the government has a “trusted advisor” in its plans to provide cleaner energy across the nation.

Maynard, who has previously recommended BPL approach Shell, said the company could “alleviate a lot of the pressure on us”.

“At some point they are going to have to do something,” he said.

“And so, you know, we just have to roll with it… but, they have to figure out what they are going to do.”

At the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association Annual Meeting at the Atlantis resort last Friday, Minnis said the government will bring the cost of energy down.

He said the public should expect an announcement next year.

As a part of this effort, the prime minister said the government will facilitate residents and businesses using more sustainable energy, and counteract the potential revenue fallout from decreased reliance on the power provider.

“Now obviously, there would be a concern that you’re taking away revenue from the power station, but let’s be efficient,” Minnis said on the sidelines of the event.

“If we are efficient then that may not have the great impact that you expect.

“There are other formulas that can be utilized.

“You can have base or minimal fees, so individuals may come off [the grid] and they make come off only 30 per cent.

“Even if they come off 100 per cent or near 100 per cent, then there should be a base fee to ensure the stability for everyone.

“I think we need to push towards that, especially in the Family Islands.”

Minnis said solarization alone could cut down energy costs by as much as 90 per cent.