Categorized | Editorials, National News

Upgrade And Reform BEC

There is no doubting that things as they regard power generation and the sale of electricity in The Bahamas is in need of wide-spread reform.

In addition, there is absolutely no doubting the fact that the status quo is simply intolerable. The Bahamian people are crying and begging for relief. We therefore call on the current administration to be up and doing with putting in place a brand new regime at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation; one which would give the Bahamian people not only a respite from their current miseries but which can when all things are said and done, make an even larger contribution to the development of The Bahamas.

Critics suggest that such upgrades and replacement and rehabilitation of auxiliary equipment would cost hundreds of millions in upfront costs that – as Michael Moss claims- “…could not afford…” This former BEC Chairman explains as follows, “…To achieve $100 million in savings would mean doubling the installed capacity at Clifton Pier…”

Our view to this is simply this: So be it! A prudent administration would understand that there are times in life when they must grasp the proverbial bull by the horn; or there are times in life when instead of grinning and bearing it – you bite the bullet and get on with life.

We are of the view that whatever the cost needed to upgrade and reform the Bahamas Electricity Corporation; we should – as a people be prepared to make the sacrifices deemed necessary. This would be a labor of love. Real reform of this sector can and should also be predicated on the notion that such reform should be so conceived that we come to the realization that power generation and the provision of electricity are matters germane to this nation’s security and development. Were we to think about things this way, few would dare chat about what BEC can afford; but would – to the contrary – trumpet their support for any and all reform efforts leading to lower rates and higher efficiency of electrical generation throughout this archipelago. Now, this credo: –

We remain convinced that The new Progressive Liberal Party government – as led by the Rt. Hon. Perry Gladstone Christie – is absolutely committed to “…lowering the cost of electricity by continuing the previous FNM government’s upgrade of generating facilities on New Providence…” We are also quite aware that the current administration believes that “…Reliability upgrades and replacement and rehabilitation of auxiliary equipment, and considering additional heavy fuel base-load generation, is an integral part of reducing electricity prices, and is a priority for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation…”

It is both interesting and informative to find that there are suggestions and calculations which forecast that “…Increasing base-load generation could save BEC $100 million annually…” Added to this, we recall information to the effect that the current administration was also considering so-called ‘serious’ proposals from the private sector for the production of energy from solar plants, waste-to-energy plants, ocean thermal conversion facilities and wind farms.

While this is all well and good, we are – like most right-thinking Bahamians – interested in dealing with what the current administration must do sooner rather than later. We want them to amend the 1956 Electricity Act now; introduce a Renewable Energy Act armed with provisions for net billing, and create an independent sector regulator and reform of the regulatory framework for energy. And clearly, we are agreed with all and sundry who insist that the current administration should remove the legal impediments of exclusive rights for the generation and sale of electricity and the prohibition of self-generation and interconnection to the grid.

In addition, we are fulsome in our support for any and all incentives aimed at helping to reduce energy demand and promote the use of alternative energy sources; inclusive of those aimed at putting in place further reductions of import duties on energy-efficient appliances, as well as tax deductions for businesses that carry out independent energy audits and undertake energy conservation measures.

We also encourage the Corporation to pursue and use alternative sources of fuel, such as liquefied natural gas or compressed natural gas. Our support for the reform of this crucially important Corporation is rooted in our conviction that its well-being is central to this nation’s security; to its growth and development – and to our viability as a nation-state in a world where life is far from stable for a trade-dependent Bahamas. We should be prepared to pay the price.

This price is the price of both nationalism and patriotism.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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