In response to the false allegations made recently by Eddie Victor and his coalition, The Grand Bahama Power Company would like to take this opportunity to respond.
We understand that the cost of electricity is a challenge for our customers, as it is globally. That is why GBPC has been working to stabilize costs on the island. In 2011 GBPC put forward a three point plan to address system reliability, the dependence on volatile priced fuels and the need to incorporate renewable generation.
Since that time we constructed and commissioned the new West Sunrise plant. Contrary to what has been reported by Mr. Victor, West Sunrise is fully owned by GBPC. The electricity being produced is not being “sold” to GBPC and marked up to customers. In fact, this plant allowed GBPC to replace old inefficient generation with no increase to the all in rates for customers. We have reduced the number of outages by 51% and customers have seen a decline in the fuel portion of their bills. We removed the 3 cent surcharge from bills in July 2012 and on average our all in rates have declined by 7 percent. When compared to other Caribbean utilities, electricity rates at GBPC are on the lower end of the scale.
Over the longer term we plan to decrease our dependency on oil which is a major component of the costs paid by our customers. We are working with our parent company Emera to find alternative and renewable energy options that make the best business case for our customers. Right now, we are working on bringing CNG to Grand Bahama, and we recently launched a Biofuel Demonstration Project that has the potential to be used as a fuel in the generation of electricity on island. It can also grow into a significant economic driver for Grand Bahama and the country.
We continue to work with the government, our regulator and our large industrial customers to find opportunities to help stimulate the economy of Grand Bahama. Our newly developed Economic Development Rate, which offers a discounted rate over a five-year period for businesses that qualify, is one example of this.
We have offered to meet with Mr Victor to discuss these improvements with him and to correct the misinformation he continues to provide to the media. He has refused to meet with the Bahamian leadership of the business. Mr. Victor instead seems more interested in advancing his own personal agenda. We do not understand how Mr. Victor feels the economy of Grand Bahama will be well served by businesses shutting off their power at a financial loss to them.
We invite our customers to contact us to discuss any concerns or questions they may have. We are working hard and will continue to work hard on becoming a more reliable and efficient utility for our customers across Grand Bahama Island.