PLP: Major developing serious issues at the BEC

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Press Statement by

the Progressive Liberal Party

February 5th 2012

The Progressive Liberal Party is deeply concerned with the very serious financial state of affairs that has beset the Bahamas Electricity Corporation since 2007. We are informed that the Corporation is seriously challenged to pay its oil bill. Just recently Chairman Moss confirmed a BEC oil debt of over $120 million which represents a sizable amount of the Country’s Foreign Banking Reserves. We urge the government to disclose why BEC is purchasing Fuel supplies at spot market prices versus forward contracting and the rate of interest being paid by BEC to its oil supplier as result of long overdue delay in payments.

The PLP also demands that the outgoing Minister of the Environment, Earl Deveaux, inform the Bahamian public of the current status BEC affairs inclusive of Abaco new power plant and to assure the Bahamian people that the Corporation will not run out of fuel notwithstanding the diminishing foreign reserves.

Information coming to the attention of The Progressive Liberal Party increasingly paints a very negative picture of the conditions at BEC. We now understand that Station (A) at the Clifton Power Station, was closed last year because of imminent danger to workers (one of whom narrowly escape serious injury), who are adamant about not working under the hazardous conditions there. The closure of Station (A) which housed 4 Ten Megawatts Generators has occurred due to the steady deterioration of the infrastructure.  This avoidable condition (at Station A) is as result of Corporation failure or inability to maintain the Building which houses Station A.

Whatever the rationale provided by Ministers Deveaux and or Neymour, or by the Prime Minister, the PLP has been reliably informed that New Providence could be faced with a major BLACKOUTS, if this situation is not addressed immediately.

We are further informed that major maintenance must be carried out on several Gas Turbines at Blue Hill Power Plant.

We are also informed the BEC is obliged once again to seek the return of Stand-By Generators, a repeat of last year’s scenario, which resulted in cost per kwh, resulting in increased customer bills. This contributes to more stresses on its already overburdened customer base of which some six thousands households in New Providence are forced to live without electricity

All indications points to the return of load-shedding (with the stand-by generators) will be at the same level experienced last summer or before.

As we approach the end of this government’s five year term, it is shameful to see that BEC, under the FNM watch, was unable to acquire any new Generators at the Clifton Power Plant, which is designated as the base plant utilizing low cost bunker C Fuel.  It is equally shameful and even more disturbing that BEC now intends to purchase another Gas Turbine Generator for its Blue Hill Plant, a move that will not bring relief but drive the cost of electricity up. We are obliged to ask who kidnapped the much talked about alternate program after almost five years.The PLP demands that this outgoing FNM government be frank and honest with its customers about the affairs of the Corporation and the constant foolish mistakes wrought under its watch.

A new PLP government will move with urgency to restore the luster of this this vital Bahamian asset, speedily introduce alternate energy, restore rates to the affordable level set by the previous PLP government and generally position the corporation to once again provide quality services to its customers. A PLP will place the interest of Bahamian first.