Pineridge MP “disappointed” in Dorian charge on power bills

Pineridge MP “disappointed” in Dorian charge on power bills
Fredrick McAlpine

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine yesterday cried shame on the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) for its additional charge on consumers in order to recoup costs associated with Hurricane Dorian.

Last week, GPBA announced the power company had gotten approval to implement a “storm recovery and stabilization charge” on consumers April 1.

Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged Grand Bahama and Abaco last September – and reportedly cost the GBPC approximately $15 million.

“As a member of Parliament speaking on behalf of the people of Pineridge and by extension the people Grand Bahama, I can only say that we are disappointed, distraught and find it very despicable at this time when the economy of Grand Bahama is still in the doldrum,” McAlpine told Eyewitness News.

“We have just come out of a devastating, catastrophic storm, and there are many people who are still living in their houses without sheetrock, many have lost their jobs, the economy is depressed and the Freeport Power showed their lack of sympathy and empathy for the Grand Bahamians by raising the electricity rate at this time.

“I think it’s atrocious, it’s disrespectful and it’s an insult in the face of the Grand Bahamians who are still struggling to make ends meet at this time.

“Even the middle class and upper class of Grand Bahama are feeling the pinch at this time.”

The increase will represent a less than $7 charge for the average residential customer and $24 for the average business customer.

The charge will show up as a separate line item on electricity bills.

Deputy Prime Minister and East Grand Bahama MP Peter Turnquest said last week that while the increase is “regrettable”, it is “necessary”.

However, McAlpine yesterday vehemently disagreed with this sentiment.

“I don’t see how it could be necessary when we are in a depressed economy,” he said.

“Perhaps it’s good for him. Maybe the DPM is comfortable, and perhaps it’s okay for him because he has no problem meeting the payment.

“But there are too many Bahamians struggling and fighting, just to keep the electricity on.”

The authority has pointed out that when its new regulatory framework was executed in 2013, a mechanism was included to allow the power provider to recoup costs associated with natural disasters.

The mechanism was originally scheduled to take effect in 2016 as a self-insurance fund, however this had to be shifted due to the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew.

McAlpine said yesterday that the move creates a lack of trust between the people, the GBPC and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.

He insisted that a regulatory body, made up of people from Grand Bahama, must be implemented to safeguard Grand Bahamians, including the ability of the government to step in and be a buffer between the parties.

“I’m not necessarily talking about URCA because URCA doesn’t seem to be doing the best of a job when it comes to BPL, so If I can’t trust them to do their job with BPL, I’m not sure I can trust them to do the job properly with the Freeport power,” he said.

“…Unfortunately the government of The Bahamas have its own issues with BPL so I guess in regard when you talk about electricity, ‘Peter ain’t no better than Paul’.”