Dorsett responds to FNM on Energy Sector Reform

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New Environment Minister Ken Dorsett

Press Statement

Min. Kenred Dorsett M.P.

Minister of the Environment and Housing

September 1st, 2013

Recent comments in the media by the former State Minister and Chairman for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) are both laughable and duplicitous because during their respective tenures, both men did absolutely nothing for five long years to reform the energy sector or reduce the cost of electricity to thousands of Bahamians. They should be ashamed to open their mouths on this matter.

While the PLP government’s policy is clear, progressive and inclusive, the FNM’s energy policy was to criticize the BEC rate reduction offered by the PLP government; transfer the management of BEC to a foreign entity; engage in massive disconnection exercises and distributed light bulbs to Bahamians. During their last term in office, energy costs skyrocketed and blackouts were the order of the day due to a lack of preventative maintenance to existing power plants and no strategic plan to expand BEC’s power generation capacity.

The management of the new power plant project in Wilson City, Abaco was a disaster of epic proportions as cost overruns and the lack of proper planning plagued the project; Abaconians and visitors alike are suffering the ill effects of that debacle to this day. BEC is working feverishly to resolve this vexing problem.

We are therefore not surprised that they (the FNM) are opposed to this progressive policy initiative and are desperately attempting to change the subject by “dumbing down” the national debate. The fact is, the FNM had no effective energy policy while in government and as the opposition, they still lack an alternative vision.

The Prime Minister’s statement on Energy Reform and the future of BEC are the ways forward for this sector. Mr. Christie made it very simple for all to see that the government of The Bahamas under his leadership intends to “seek proposals from partner (s) to reform the energy sector”. It went further to express that, “It is our intent to create two new BEC entities into which the relevant assets, liabilities and operations of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will be transferred: The first is a new Transmission and Distribution company (“NewCo”) which will be wholly owned by BEC. This company will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, and expansion of NewCo’s electricity transmission and distribution systems and for billing, collection, customer services and other relevant services across The Bahamas”

This model of separating generation and transmission is not new. Many countries across the Caribbean and the wider global community have adopted this model. Also what must be considered is the fact that very few countries in the world share the geographical makeup of The Bahamas where infrastructure and services must be duplicated for each inhabited island.

Bahamians can be assured that this government is firm in its resolve to bringing relief to the Bahamian people by implementing the requisite policies to lower the cost of electricity in this country which skyrocketed under the former administration resulting in thousands of Bahamians being forced to live in darkness.

This government’s decisive action to date has effectively charted the course for the future growth and development of our energy sector.

The FNM’s position of opposing for the sake of opposing and obfuscation has placed them yet again on the wrong side of the national conversation.