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By NOELLE NICOLLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE executive management at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) have two more days to comply before managerial staff move ahead with plans for a Wednesday strike vote.
The Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU) filed a strike request with the Ministry of Labour last Thursday, according to union president Ervin Dean.
Approval for the vote is expected to come forward today, which will make way for the already scheduled strike vote.
"The executive management have failed to comply with the industrial agreement (IA). We have been asking for them to comply and conform for the past four years. Because they refus ...
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has said that 99 percent of electricity supply had been restored on New Providence and its teams are working to complete repairs to the remaining parts of the island still offline.
BEC also said in a release Wednesday that service had been restored to all Family Islands with the exception of Abaco, Acklins (Spring Point only), Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island.
The residents without electricity on New Providence have a broad set of challenges, some unrelated to Hurricane Irene, BEC said yesterday.
BEC teams were working Wednesday in several New Providence communities. These areas included: Prince Charles Drive, Peardale, the Nassau Stadium area and Sunset and Marina Drives.
BEC had estimated that work in these areas would be completed by today.
BEC is advising that customers with existing supply issues should contact its emergency hotline at 302-1800 or 323-5561.
Up to yesterday evening, 98 percent of Abaco's electricity supply had been restored and on Exuma and Long Island 99 percent of service was restored, BEC said.
"Only a small number of customers in Green Turtle Cay and the Cays are without supply" said BEC, referring to Abaco.
In Spring Point, Acklins BEC teams have continued work to fully restore supply to the remaining residents without power.
Cat Island was one of the islands most impacted by Hurricane Irene. BEC had restored 25 percent of supply to Cat Island yesterday.
The corporation is being assisted by the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) and it expects two teams from regional association to be deployed to Cat Island, and one team to Eleuthera, to assist by early next week.
Five workers from Barbados arrived on Saturday, seven more flew in from Jamaica on Sunday, but it could still be another two weeks before power is fully restored to Cat Island and Eleuthera, according to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
The announcement comes two weeks after Hurricane Irene plowed through The Bahamas.
When it's all said and done, residents and business in these areas will have been in the dark for a month.
"We really have basically two islands left that need attention - Cat Island and Eleuthera," Michael Moss said, the Chairman of BEC. "While people continue to talk about the havoc on Cat Island, based on our records, there were even more poles down on Eleuthera. Teams have come in to assist our people with the restoration."
On Eleuthera, Moss explained the main HV line between Rock Sound and Governor's Harbour is 65 percent complete, while repairs to the overhead line from Hatchet Bay to Three Island Dock are 30 percent done.
Palmetto Point is 69 percent complete, Windermere Island is at 70 percent and Savannah Sound is 90 percent.
"We did have a team come in from Barbados to assist us with the Eleuthera restoration," he added.
On Cat Island, with the assistance of a team from Jamaica, approximately 20 poles have been charged North of the power station, restoring power to about 500 customers. Power has also been brought back from North of the Cove to Orange Creek.
Twenty-eight poles are operational South of the station, where crews continue to work.
"Today they are between The Cove and T Bay," Moss added. "Total restoration to date [on Cat Island] is about 35 percent."
Hundreds of Bahamians were inducted into the Job Readiness and Training Initiative yesterday, which promises to mend the "disconnect" that exists between what employers need and the capacity to fill those needs.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham urged the first 400 participants in New Providence and 240 from Grand Bahama, to take advantage of the opportunity.
"We expect and require that you participate fully and make your employer and our economy, and indeed yourselves, better off," he told the crowd at the Sheraton Hotel.
The $25 million program will include 52 weeks of job placement and two weeks of orientation.
The idea, Ingraham said, is to forge close relationships with the private sector so it will take on these workers, and at the same time, provide Bahamians with the skills and confidence needed to achieve and maintain meaningful employment.
Beginning this semester, 200 people from Nassau will receive training at the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute. The government plans to cover the cost of tuition, and a similar exercise is being planned for Grand Bahama.
A number of entities in the private sector have already stepped up to participate in the initiative, and others, including BORCO, the container port, and GB Shipyard in Grand Bahama, have expressed interest as training partners.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation are also possible avenues for the participants.
"We are convinced that this program will assist in upgrading the human resource capacity, that is, the skill level and competences in our labor force," the prime minister added.
"This will serve as a long-term investment in the further growth and development of our economy."
The 640 participants, the first of thousands, will be paid $210 per week while they are in training, less their contribution to NIB. At the end of the engagement, if they are not employed permanently, they will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
The class will begin with "soft skills", the Prime Minister added, teaching workers traits and abilities essential in the job market, including punctuality, reliability, attitude, problem solving and time management.
Ingraham said the number of applications to the program have been considerable, which demonstrates that the Bahamian economy, like many other economies around the world, is "severely affected" by the current global financial crisis.
"Unemployment is far, far too high in our country," he said.
Although the government cannot guarantee long-term employment for all of the participants, dedication and commitment to the placement will provide the workers with an excellent chance.
In the coming weeks, Abaco, Eleuthera and elsewhere will join the program.
Two electrical teams from Jamaica arrived in New Providence yesterday and will travel to Cat Island today to assist the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) in its efforts to restore electricity on that island.
Cat Island is one of the two islands that suffered the most damage in the wake of Hurricane Irene, which knocked down scores of power lines and resulted in a complete loss of electricity on that island.
Up to yesterday less than 30 percent of the electricity on that island had been restored.
The two teams are expected to significantly boost BEC's efforts and speed up the process, the corporation's press officer Arnette Ingraham told The Guardian yesterday.
BEC General Manager Kevin Basden said that it would take at least another three weeks before power is fully restored to all parts of Cat Island.
In addition to the teams that went to Cat Island, Ingraham said that a team from Barbados traveled to Eleuthera to help with restoration efforts in The Bluff, which has been completely without power.
All three teams are a part of the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC), an association of electricity utilities, suppliers, manufacturers and other stakeholders operating in the electricity industry in the Caribbean.
Restoration efforts in the remainder of Eleuthera are about 90 percent complete, Ingraham said.
Ingraham added that service has been restored to all Family Islands with the exception of Abaco, Acklins (Spring Point only), Cat Island, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island.
Meantime, the residents without electricity on New Providence have a broad set of challenges, some unrelated to Hurricane Irene, Ingraham said.
Hurricane Irene stormed through The Bahamas two weeks ago. While New Providence and Grand Bahama were spared from major damage, scores of Family Island residents suffered damage to their homes. In addition to electrical supplies, water and telecommunication supplies were also disrupted as a result of the Irene's passage.
The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) will host the 10th Annual Conference of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR), from Wednesday, November 7 to Friday, November 9 at the Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) said it continues to make steady progress with its efforts to restore the supply of electricity to Cat Island and Eleuthera following Hurricane Irene.
While supply has been restored to all other Family Islands and New Providence, BEC said the damage on Cat Island and Eleuthera was far more extensive.
BEC said the amount of work to do after the hurricane required multiple crews, specialized equipment, and additional supplies.
"In Eleuthera, five teams including local teams, a team from New Providence, and a team from Carilec (an association of Caribbean utility companies) have nearly completed the restoration of electricity supply on the island. And as of (Wednesday) most areas were restored," said BEC in a statement yesterday.
BEC officials estimate that they will be able to restore electricity supply to affected residents in the Eleuthera settlements of Palmetto Point, Windermere Island, Governor's Harbour, Savannah Sound, Rock Sound, Tarpum Bay and Deep Creek by the end of the week.
However, 99 percent of Rainbow Bay remains without power.
BEC did not indicate when the electricity supply would be restored there.
The corporation said that on Cat Island, where the most damage to infrastructure took place, BEC and Carilec teams have restored supply from Orange Creek to Smith's Bay with approximately 500 customers reconnected.
BEC said teams on the ground expect to have supply restored as far as New Bight by the end of the week.
Staff of the Water and Sewerage Corporation worked for hours yesterday to repair a ruptured pipe that left some businesses and residents in the Palmdale and Kemp Road areas without water.
The 12-inch vein, located beneath the Collins Avenue and 7th Terrace junction, ruptured at approximately 2 a.m. yesterday, according to Water and Sewerage Senior Manager Preston Rahming.
He explained that there was a delay before repairs began on the pipe around 7:30 a.m. because the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Cable Bahamas had to confirm that the location could be worked on without affecting their services.
"Our staff unfortunately had to wait on the other utility service providers before they could begin excavating," he said.
Water and Sewerage Supervisor Richard Brown said the source of the rupture was unclear, but he speculated that wear and tear or possibly the water pressure was the cause, as the pipe had been in operation since 1988.
Although he was unable to ascertain how much water had been lost, he confirmed that the water supply was restored around 1 p.m.
Kirsch Ferguson, proprietor of Ferguson's Funeral Directors on 7th Terrace, said the disruption in water supply had a tremendous impact on his business.
"We are involved in handling human remains [and because of that] we are dependant on water for the purpose of sanitation," he said.
Ferguson added that the funeral home was forced to postpone some of its services due to the passage of Hurricane Irene, which impacted its electricity supply.
In a last-minute attempt to stave off a planned strike vote by the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union on Wednesday, the management of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation has sent a letter to the labor body asking for a meeting to broker a deal that could form the basis of a new industrial contract, The Nassau Guardian was told.
“We have today sent a further letter to the union and we would look forward to them replying to that letter in the hope that we could have a meeting and move forward,” BEC Chairman Michael Moss said yesterday.
“Hopefully they would respond in kind and that will pave the way forward for us to move ahead,” he said.
But when contact ...
The government this week signed a letter of intent with a company that plans to build a $625 million-$675 million waste-to-energy plant at the landfill that is projected to lower the cost of electricity and generate 2,500 construction and 400 permanent jobs.
In what may herald a significant shift in this country's energy infrastructure, Stellar Waste-To-Energy Bahamas Limited (SWTEB) Principal Fabrizio Zanaboni signed the deal with the Ministry of Works on Monday, according to a copy of the letter of intent (LOI) obtained by Guardian Business.
It would involve the project developer putting up 100 percent of the cost of the development of the facility, which would take two years to construct.
Upon completion, the plant will generate 70 to 80 megawatts of power daily from the burning of waste arriving at the landfill. The power will be sold to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) for distribution via its grid at a cost of 20 cents per kilowatt hour, less than half of the current cost to consumers of power sold by BEC.
The 70 to 80 megawatts (MW) of power it will produce represents around 29 to 33 percent of the roughly 240-megawatt-power demand of New Providence daily.
SWTEB is described in the letter of intent as a special purpose vehicle, and is understood to be a joint venture between a Bahamian entity and Stellar Energy Limited. Within 24 months of the signing of the LOI, an initial public offering is expected which would involve providing some portion of the
ownership of the company to the Bahamian public.
The signing of the contract demands that SWTEB is provided with 1,500 metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) daily over a 25-year period, along with a 25-year minimum power purchase agreement (PPA) .
'Acceptable proof of funding'
The LOI states that the project developer has submitted "acceptable proof of funding".
Guardian Business understands that an initial study has been undertaken which is said to show the financial feasibility of the project, while another two now must be done within six months.
The LOI states: "The Bahamas government is encouraging beneficial owners of Stellar Waste-To-Energy Bahamas to transfer to BEC or another privately or public-owned company against the payment thereof a minimum of 51 percent of the shares in Stellar Waste-To-Energy, as well as support the issuing of an IPO in order to widen its ownership to the general public within 24 months."
This would mean that the transferral of the company's ownership stake would occur prior to the launch of generation by the plant.
Guardian Business understands that the plant would utilize plasma gasification technology. In this process, waste will be burned at heat as high as 9,000 degrees to produce energy, with plasma rock and water produced as a by-product.
The government has yet to announce the signing. However, it comes as the government continues to delay a decision with respect to a previously announced overhaul of BEC's operations, having indicated an interest in splitting its generation and transmission and distribution functions and bringing private companies in to obtain contracts for both.
It is unclear exactly how the signing of the agreement with SWTEB fits with that process, however, the planned investment in new generation capacity may reduce the investment any new partner in BEC would have to make and operating costs overall for the corporation.
When the government announced plans to overhaul BEC in August 2013, it indicated that renewable energy would be placed on the policy backburner until such time as that process was complete.
Meanwhile, the contract signed with SWTEB would appear to conflict with the contract which the government signaled had been signed with Renew Bahamas, given that both companies' business models revolve around having access to the waste streams coming into the landfill.
Renew Bahamas was officially announced in June by Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett as taking over management of the landfill. Dorsett said that the company would establish a materials recycling facility into which waste would be fed to produce recycled materials for sale.
It is unclear how this apparent conflict between the demand for waste that would be required by both companies is set to be resolved by the government.
The establishment of a waste-to-energy facility, possibly the first in the region, could be a major plus given its potential to find a useful and productive means of disposing of ever-accumulating waste at the landfill and to lower energy costs, as well as the signal it sends that the government is finally taking concrete steps to incorporate renewable sources of power into this country's energy mix.
However, the silence of the government ahead of the signing of the LOI is also likely to raise further concerns regarding how the government has chosen to move ahead with assessing and concluding major deals in recent times, particularly given the fact that there is an all-Bahamian group which had at one point put forward a proposal to pursue a contract for a waste-to-energy facility at the landfill.
According to internet research, Fabrizio Zanaboni, principal of SWTEB, has a background in academia, having earned a PhD in econometrics in Italy, but has spent most of his career in investment banking.
Having previously worked as head of international wealth management at BSI Generali UK Ltd., a joint venture with Generali Group, Zanaboni moved to The Bahamas in 2007 to become the chief executive officer of Banca del Gottardo, Bank and Trust Company.
Since 2008, Zanaboni's LinkedIn profile indicates he is the major partner of a financial services boutique based in The Bahamas, FAB Portfolio Management Bahamas Ltd.
Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Michael Moss suggested yesterday in a press release that the mismanagement of BEC by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) led to the corporation constructing Abaco's Wilson City power plant out of pocket.
But he suggested is has never been over budget as suggested by the PLP.
Moss was responding to claims by the PLP's Chairman Bradley Roberts that the cost to build and complete the Wilson City plant has overrun the government's budget by a least $30 million.
Moss said Roberts should be aware that BEC was forced to build the power plant from available cash flow after the PLP reduced the corporation's tariff, "making it impossible for BEC to continue securing loans on the strength of its balance sheet."
Roberts suggested in the statement he released Sunday that the power plant's budget, originally set at $90 million, increased to $120 million because of overlooked costs associated with peripheral components needed to generate power efficiently from the new plant.
He said those peripherals included power lines, special transformers, a new switching system and a sub-station.
Moss explained that it was because of BEC's dismal financial situation that it was necessary to put these peripherals in place as the funds became available.
"It became necessary to perform certain works as cash became available," he said.
"Construction of the Wilson City to Marsh Harbour transmission line was one such project. Final preparation and paving of the roadway leading to the site was another.
"Perhaps Mr. Roberts will be good enough to disclose details of the contract left in place for construction of such a transmission line from Snake Cay into Marsh Harbour or did he perhaps intend to bottle the electricity and have it distributed by truck?"
Roberts also revealed Sunday that both the old Marsh Harbour power plant and the new Wilson City plant are being utilized at the same time, which he called a "massive waste" of BEC's money.
Moss also explained why both the old and new power plants are being run simultaneously.
"As regards the present parallel-operation of the Marsh Harbour and Wilson City plants, it is to be noted that Abaco's maximum daily demand is presently about 16 MW (Megawatt), too much for each of the Wilson City 12 MW units (on their own)..."
He said one 12 MW unit is being used at the Wilson City power plant while one 4 MW unit is being used at the old Marsh Harbour plant.
"Because of the size of the units ordered during Mr. Roberts' tenure (as minister responsible for BEC), it will be desirable to maintain and operate some quantum of generation at Marsh Harbour until Abaco's load increases to a level to justify operating at least two units at Wilson City at all times," Moss said.
Roberts claimed that the Free National Movement (FNM) mismanaged the overall development of the Wilson City power plant.
Moss explained that the PLP government failed to make financial provisions to decommission the Marsh Harbour plant, which he said will require the construction of the sub-station and switching system Roberts contended was one of the oversights on the part of the FNM.
"These tip of the iceberg activities referred to by Mr. Roberts are in no way a part of the Wilson City power plant project and Mr. Roberts' attempt to characterize them as such is regrettable," Moss said.
"The planned works are firstly highly desirable so as to decommission the antiquated, hodge-podge of switchboards within the Marsh Harbour Power Station and thus improve the Abaco electricity distribution network. They are, moreover, essential in order to decommission the power plant."
NASSAU, The Bahamas - A
Resolution was tabled and unanimously passed in the House of Assembly
January 30 to secure a government guarantee for a $250 million private
placement in the International Financial Markets by the Bahamas
Electricity Corporation (BEC), as the Corporation seeks to restructure
its debt portfolio.
Moving the Resolution was Minister of State
for Finance, the Hon. Michael Halkitis, who pointed out that the
government, guaranteed $211 million of the debt on the 20th October 2009
with an additional $35 million borrowed on the 27th August 2012.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) representatives met late last evening (August 31, 2011) with leading members of a Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) risk assessment team, who are in Cat Island today, in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Irene throughout The Bahamas.
"The CDEMA team will be going into Cat Island tomorrow (September 1, 2011) to continue to supply their technical expertise and linking with other agencies on the island - such as the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, the Water and Sewerage Corporation, BTC Bahamas and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force," Operations Manager at NEMA Mrs. Gayle Outten-Moncur said. "They will also speak with the island administrator, who will bring them 'up to speed' on what is happening on the island at that time."
Mrs. Outten-Moncur said The Bahamas is a participating member-state of CDEMA and the team's expertise is welcomed. "It was on our invite that CDEMA was able to come," she said. "This is actually a part of the working mechanism, when you look at response in the disaster plan, not only in NEMA, but regionally."
Technical Manager for CDEMA's Preparedness and Country Support Ms. Andrea Grosvenor said that CDEMA is the agency established by CARICOM to oversee disaster management in the region. Across the 18-member states in the region, CDEMA implements management strategy that looks at all phases of disaster management and all hazards, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and all the peoples of the region who can be affected by a disaster or can assist in responding to it.
"For a number of islands in the region, it is very important to be involved in a system like CDEMA because we face so many similar hazards in the Caribbean region and it allows us to be able to undertake similar approaches to how we can handle them," Ms. Grosvenor said. "It sets up a broad framework that we can work from, it allows us to mobilize resources that can support a number of countries, it allows us to have standards that we can all have to deliver our programing," she added. "At a national standpoint, we have co-ordinating agencies work together, bringing their expertise and technical skills, enabling assistance and help to others, as it relates to emergencies in the various technical areas," Mrs. Outten-Moncur said.
Ms. Grosvenor said that a juncture like this, where The Bahamas has been impacted by a storm that caused losses, the CDEMA mechanism becomes important because, as a part of that process, there is a regional response mechanism. "The regional response mechanism really involves a number of actors (participants) and a number of procedures and plans and arrangements that really facilitate mutual assistance to a country that has been affected," she said. "It involves, also, external inputs that support it being delivered."
For example, Ms. Grosvenor explained, when Hurricane Irene affected The Bahamas, CDEMA would have been monitoring the system, had constant contact with NEMA, and would have been preparing reports and information to be shared with a variety of partners. Then when The Bahamas was able to indicate areas of need, she added, CDEMA was able to identify and work with a number of partners in delivering on those needs.
"For instance, we were able to do the aerial reconnaissance over Acklins Island, Long Island and Cat Island, earlier this week," she said. "We were also able to - based on the needs that were specifically identified - sent in on Saturday (August 27) a shipment of relief supplies into Mayaguana and Acklins Island, island that were significantly affected. "Now we are working to support the Government of The Bahamas and NEMA in conducting a Rapid Needs Assessment in Cat Island, a significantly affected island in The Bahamas."
Ms. Grosvenor said that the Rapid Needs Assessment is important because it gives a picture of what are the critical impacts and the critical needs, emerging from those impacts in 72 hours. "We know that the Government of The Bahamas already has a number of people on the ground and we will also be working with them to see how we can ensure that we are also strengthening what they are doing, so that, at the end of this process, you will not only have the Rapid Needs Assessment, but you also have a detailed assessment of what the Government of The Bahamas is doing," Ms. Grosvenor said. "That gives a good picture of how really and truly we ought to address the response and recovery efforts," she added. "That is done basically through the support of our member states."
Ms. Grosvenor said that among those on the team doing the assessment are representatives from the University of the West Indies, both the Barbados and Jamaican Coastal Zone Units, the Pan American Health Organization and the Jamaica Defence Force and Spatial Data Management Division. "These are all Caribbean people coming together to help our neighbor at this time, who has been impacted by an emergency event," she said.
Ms. Grosvenor said that NEMA is an intrinsic part of the CDEMA system, with an ongoing program of partnership and response. "For instance, when Hurricane Keith hit Belize in 2000, The Government of The Bahamas, through the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, sent a team of engineers to Belize to help build homes," she said. "That is the type of assistance that has been provided and there are several other examples."
She added that they are also working on an overall program with NEMA, providing assistance to The Bahamas outside of the realm of disaster response. For instance, they are working on a project that is funded by the European Union, in the Eleuthera communities such as Spanish Wells, The Bluff, The Current and Lower Bogue.
Also there are other programs funded by the Canadian government on preparedness and mitigation. "So, it is not only about the response," Ms. Grosvenor said. "We do not only come in after things happen; but it is a general program throughout the year that we also offer. With all this in mind, CDEMA will continue to link with us, to ensure that all of the agencies are on the same page, as we move forward in the assessments for Cat Island, Acklins and other heavily-impacted islands," Mrs. Outten-Moncur said.
A former presidential candidate in the Bahamas Electrical Workers?Union (BEWU)?elections is appealing the decision of the Registrar of Trade?Unions, Harcourt Brown to declare last month’s poll null and void.
Clyde Cartwright, who was one of three candidates vying for the top post, is appealing to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes to overturn the ruling.
The BEWU represents hundreds of line-staff workers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
Brown declared the poll null and void after it was discovered that Dexter Cartwright, a security supervisor, was nominated and ran for the post of secretary general contrary to a provision in the union’s constitution. That provision sta ...
A 70,000 gallon fuel spill at a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) storage facility in Rock Sound, Eleuthera this week, which could cost the government up to $350,000, exposed the long-running theft of fuel from the island, BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said.
Miller said officials suspect that an unknown thief was siphoning thousands of gallons of fuel from the storage facility for some time. Miller suspects that during this latest incident, the thief left the area abruptly, without the intended fuel, which later overflowed out of a holding tank and onto the ground.
"From all indications, there was theft," Miller said, as he toured the spill site with several government officials yesterday.
"Now our question is how long has this theft been going on?"
BEC officials discovered the spill at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
He said BEC has evidence that similar thefts have occurred at facilities in other parts of Eleuthera including Harbour Island and Hatchet Bay.
BEC will now increase manpower at the Rock Sound facility and look at other ways to mitigate future theft.
"That facility there is never used except when the ship comes in," Miller explained. "The ship was bringing in 110,000 gallons of fuel. As you see, the fuel line...goes to our plant. Obviously someone was smart enough to use one of the tanks as his personal tank. So when the ship comes in, he fills up with about 20,000 gallons of fuel. When the ship leaves, he turns it off, and we suspect that maybe some emergency came up, the fellow had to leave, came back and that's the end result because his tank overflowed and that's how the spill occurred. He was filling his tank and it overflowed."
A statement released by BEC on Thursday said a preliminary investigation found that a check valve was "tampered with and this contributed to the resulting fuel spill".
"We need to put in the proper mechanisms so when the ship comes in more than one person is here," Miller said. "I'm told that the norm is just to have one person here who goes to the ship and sees to it that it's hooked up properly and goes to our plant. Obviously we have some serious flaws we need to correct."
As Miller toured the site - with Environment Minister Ken Dorsett and area MP Damian Gomez - representatives from Baychem were busy cleaning up the spilled oil. About 90 percent of the oil had been contained as of yesterday, according to Miller. He said contaminated soil would be sent to New Providence to be treated and cleaned and later reused.
The spilled fuel is worth $190,000 and clean up efforts will cost another $100,000 to $150,000 - money the financially hemorrhaging BEC can ill afford to spend, Miller told The Nassau Guardian.
"It is a huge loss when you consider the fact that last year BEC spent $348 million on fuel, and every penny counts. That's why your cost of electricity is so high. Our number one cost is fuel; the number two cost is overtime. So those two combinations had a detrimental effect on the profit line of BEC."
Officials discovered the spill at 9 a.m. on Tuesday but did not make the information public until late Thursday.
The entire clean up is expected to be completed in two weeks. Miller said the spill would not impact electricity supply to the island and said BEC had enough fuel on hand.
More than 100 middle managers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will go through with their planned strike vote today, as they continue to fight for a new industrial agreement.
Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU)?President Irvin Dean said the polls are scheduled to open at 9 a.m. at the House of Labour on Wulff Road and close some eight hours later at 5 p.m.
The strike vote takes place a week after the managers called in sick, in protest of the failure of BEC’s executive management to present them with a proposal for a new agreement. The old agreement expired more than three years ago.
Dean said he expects the majority of the middle managers to participate in today & ...
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday apologized for the recent outages and said BEC is working to prevent further service disruptions.
On Wednesday, thousands of customers were impacted after lightning struck a generator at the Clifton Pier power plant, Miller said.
This resulted in several units tripping offline, according to the corporation.
Miller noted that BEC technicians have since brought those units back online.
"We have all the engines now," he told The Guardian yesterday.
"Clifton is running at [optimal levels], so we're in good shape.
"We continue to get lightning strikes out at Clifton. They have the lightning arrestors on there, but the strikes are so massive they cause intermittent problems.
"So we're trying now to get some new arrestors to try and solve the problems. [These are] the summer months, so you'll have those things."
Asked if customers should expect more outages, Miller said no.
However, he added, "We don't predict nature".
"If the lightning comes and the rain follows, these things happen. I don't know if you want me to talk to God. You want me to give him a call?" he asked chuckling.
"When you have lightning strikes, the machines automatically cut off to save the machine from any serious problems. Then you go and repair whatever damage is done. It's very minor damage most of the time."
BEC spent about $5 million in the past six months upgrading the Clifton Pier power plant in a bid to cut down on energy costs.
Miller told The Nassau Guardian last month that the upgrades will also help to prevent blackouts as a result of load shedding once the summer months roll in.
"We don't expect any blackouts," Miller said.
"We spent significant money refurbishing the engines at Clifton and we did so with very little outside help."
Miller said the upgrades resulted in the increased use of the Clifton Pier power plant, which also resulted in a decreased fuel surcharge.
He added that BEC is seeking to cut down on its reliance on the Blue Hills power plant, as it is more expensive to run.
Developers behind a major housing project in southwestern New Providence plan to be more "proactive" in their sales push given continued slow sales.
Despite breaking ground on Lyford Hills in 2009, Tennyson Wells admitted the development has experienced a number of challenges, one of which has been not tying in to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) right away. But since that process was completed two weeks ago, Wells did confirm the developers have noticed "more activity".
"We have done quite a bit of landscaping, including the entrance. BEC has tied in the electricity. That was something that should have been done from last September. Now we are in the process of completing the paving in phase one. So certainly by the end of March, phase one would have been completed," he revealed to Guardian Business.
"I think one of the mistakes that I have made with the development is the fact that I did not tie into BEC originally. But at the time, the reason I did that was because nobody was living there and the cost to tie in is hundreds of thousands of dollars. And that reportedly turned some people off.
"Vacant lots are not selling because there are a lot of distressed properties out on the market that banks are trying to get rid of at fire sale prices. Unfortunately, there have been cases where our clients have gone to the bank to get qualified and never come back because you suddenly discover that they bought something else. Even the real estate agents that we are in constant contact with have been complaining about it."
Now, there are plans to build high-end townhouses and offer more single-family lots by mid-2014 in Lyford Hills, as well as the developers' South Seas development.
"There is some building going on as well. So this year, we will be more proactive in Lyford Hills and South Seas. Since hosting a very successful open house back in November, we've made a couple of sales since then," Wells said.
In the past, several realtors have expressed to Guardian Business the difficulty they have noticed with Bahamians accessing financing for homes.
Currently, the development of the project's first phase is very close to completion, with only a small amount of road paving left to complete.
Another open house is scheduled for Lyford Hills on March 1.
The cost of electricity in The Bahamas is a significant economic burden. This government has promised to lower rates, but when and how?
The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA), tired of waiting for government action, has taken a step forward to combat high energy costs by initiating energy audits.
While the organization should be praised for the initiative, other Bahamian businesses and homeowners cannot afford both the cost of an audit and its recommendations. The health of the overall Bahamian economy requires greater efficiency, not just in the tourism industry.
The government should lead by example and conduct a transparent energy audit and retrofit of its own buildings. Such an exercise has been promised during its tenure, but when? Perhaps, the government finds it difficult, like the Bahamian businessman, to afford the audit and recommendations under the burden of rising debt and electricity costs that hold it hostage.
Finding the money to spend to ultimately save is elusive to many Bahamian businesses.
An energy audit is a detailed inspection of a building's energy use over time to determine measures for greater efficiency resulting in cost savings. Energy efficiency is avoiding energy consumption in the first place. Efficiency is more than just turning off lights; it is a progressive reduction in energy needed to power basic appliances.
The Energy Star program started in 1992 is perhaps one of the most recognized labels for a product meeting efficiency thresholds. Products carrying the Energy Star label typically use 20 percent to 30 percent less energy. Consumer demand coupled with U.S. regulations has fostered innovative methods to make appliances more efficient year after year.
The government must expand duty exemptions for such products to encourage Bahamians to buy newer more efficient appliances at reasonable prices. Already, hybrid vehicle owners enjoy significant duty and gasoline savings over traditional all fuel vehicles. Most importantly, Bahamians must be able to afford the upfront costs to benefit from future cost savings.
The previous government offered a CFL lightbulb and solar hot water heater giveaway to qualified applicants. Such initiatives are important educational tools and should continue to be encouraged.
Our high cost for electricity is the primary driver for investing in some form of energy efficiency be it an energy audit or Energy Star product. But The Bahamas should also welcome greater efficiency to ease the burden of supplying power to an expanding population.
BEC is a corporation. It makes money by supplying power, and reducing demand will result in lost revenue. But if we can stabilize energy production and operation of our existing infrastructure, service interruptions will likely decrease.
The government has indicated it is performing an energy assessment to determine the right mix of energy production methods. With over 40 alternative energy proposals, the government is right to turn to expert advice. But with OPEC not likely to lower the cost of oil any time soon, Bahamians would welcome some respite from high electricity prices sooner than later.
In the meantime, businesses and homeowners welcome winter's cooler temperatures and a break from running high-cost air conditioners.
There is "concern" about potential water contamination from the 70,000 gallon fuel spill at a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) fuel storage facility in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, said Eric Carey, executive director of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT). Carey, who spoke to The Nassau Guardian from Grand Bahama yesterday, said the spill could seep into porous limestone underground and later lead to water contamination. "That is more of the concern because it could potentially contaminate water resources," he said."The risk is it sits there under the ground floating on top of fresh water but the good thing is because it floats on top of fresh water one could recover it. "I don't know how much has been spilled in this, but from what I have been told...a lot of it that got into the sea would evaporate and I just have no idea how much got into the ground."Carey said the spill would not cause any imminent threat to human health because the Water and Sewage Corporation (WSC) did not harness ground water from the area."So we should not have as a human health risk, the contamination of ground water supplies," he said. "It's so close to the sea that our issue would really be on it percolating from the land into the sea where again I believe that we could take care of the risk that is presented."Carey said some of the fuel spread to the nearby coastal area. "I understand it's diesel and some of it was land based and some of it actually got into the water," he said. "Diesel, from what I understand, it's a volatile enough fuel which would [evaporate] in the water, a lot of it would evaporate. So it wouldn't be a long-term concern for the marine environment."However, Casuarina Lockhart-McKinney, executive director at Bahamas Reef Environment Educational Foundation (BREEF), said whenever oil spills it is cause for worry. "Any oil spill is bad for the environment, whether on land or under the sea," she said. "Given the fact that land is so porous, it goes through land and into the waterbed. It's bad news for marine and terrestial life, but also people."Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett toured the Rock Sound facility along with BEC Chairman Leslie Miller and other government officials yesterday. Dorsett said while investigations are underway it is too early to say what, if any, repercussions the spill will have on the environment and water table. "We'll await the full report before we speculate to the factual basis as to what happened and [how] to address these issues in the medium term and the long term," he said. "I'm pleased with the response that we see here."Baychem, the New Providence-based company hired for the clean-up, will place a berm 10 feet away from the spill site to prevent it from spreading, Dorsett said. He added that rainy weather has helped the on-site technicians in their clean-up efforts and will likely raise some of the oil which seeped into the ground. "The established protocols are being followed," Dorsett assured. As of yesterday, about 90 percent of the oil was contained, according to Miller. Miller said full clean-up would be complete in two weeks. Officials said they noticed the spill on Tuesday morning, however the information was not made public until Thursday night. The incident occurred a day after a container ship leaked an estimated 3,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the ocean just off Grand Bahama.
A tourism leader in Eleuthera is fighting to over-turn a decision by the government to exclude certain Family Islands from the official list on The Tariff Act.
After sustaining $250,000 worth of damage, Stephen Kappeler, the General Manager of Cape Eleuthera, said the resort could use a little bit of help.
"I think they are overlooking the damages to Eleuthera," Kappeler said, who is also the Senior Vice President of the BHA. "It's also strange to me that Abaco is not being taken care of. Long-standing, key properties are being neglected."
Last week, Hubert Ingraham, the Prime Minister, signed an Exigency Order giving many of the islands devastated by Irene full exemption from tariffs on a wide range of essential goods.
The measure, lasting for 60 days on Cat Island and Acklins, and 30 days for other areas, is expected to help thousands of residents and business get back on their feet.
According to The Tariff Act, Long Cay, Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Inagua, Ragged Island, Cat Island and Acklins qualify for the tax exemptions, which can include anything from fishing boats to building materials.
Although an amendment in the Act said areas not mentioned could still make their losses known to NEMA, the official omission of some islands hard hit by Hurricane Irene has nevertheless raised some eyebrows.
Cape Eleuthera, the only deep-water marina on the island, is the largest local employer, according to Kappeler.
In addition to the damage, the resort and marina still doesn't have power, and he's "disturbed" by the slow response of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation. The marina has been forced to close its doors and turn away customers.
Late last week, Kappeler added that a "nice sized divers group" had to be turned away.
The group wasn't expected until late September, but the organizers, he said, didn't feel comfortable booking with Cape Eleuthera given the recent troubles.
The troubling news comes as Cape Eleuthera has recently been recognized as a 2011 Fodor's Choice selection.
Fodor, a leading name is travel information, made the announcement last Thursday.
Kappeler was honored by the distinction, but there is only one thing on his mind these days.
"I thought you were going to tell me the prime minister has given us a duty exemption," he said, when contacted by Guardian Business.
"Being selected though is a huge morale booster for our staff. You can have beautiful beaches and facilities, but if you don't have the staff, you can't deliver the service. Our staff is really the key to our success at the Cape."
Winston Rolle, the Chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, told Guardian Business he's "very surprised" by the exclusions to The Tariff Act, and in particular, Eleuthera.
"From my understanding, the whole emphasis on the duty exemption was supposed to help islands hit the hardest," Rolle said.
"I'm a bit surprised Eleuthera wasn't included. When you look at the path of the hurricane, they [were] all certainly affected."
He added that he would fully support an initiative to get Eleuthera and Abaco on the official list.
"I would absolutely support these islands being included. Eleuthera and Abaco did get severely affected [and I] would imagine they would be on the list."
Rolle and Kappeler were uncertain whether businesses and residents on Eleuthera or Abaco will be treated the same way as other islands.
"There are families behind these businesses and they've been around for years," Kappeler said, referring to hotels and resorts on both Eleuthera and Abaco.
"It's highly disappointing they're not being properly considered."
The Bahamas is on track to see the government finance statistics (GFS) deficit exceed the $248 million budgeted amount by $200 million, based on how the first quarter of the 2011/2012 fiscal year is shaping up, according to Al Jarrett.
The retired senior banker and former Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) chairman says that's the conclusion that must be drawn following the completion of his macro-economic analysis of the government's budgetary and fiscal performance. His recent work is the second phase of his initial analysis for the period 2007 to 2010.
Jarrett spoke to Guardian Business yesterday as he embarked on a media tour to inform the Bahamian public on the findings of his research, with a number of radio and television talk-shows lined up.
"The key finding is that the government has had flawed budgets from day one all the way to now," Jarrett said.
Key projections Jarrett's research is allowing him to make include a 2 percent to 2.5 percent negative growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of this fiscal year, and debt-to-GDP levels reaching 79 percent - ahead of the IMF's 2015 timeline projection.
As Jarrett works his way through the media circuit more of the details behind his projections will be explored.
Jarrett's conclusion that the GFS deficit will come in at $200 million over that budgeted was based on what he says is the use of a flawed starting point for the government's calculations.
"This year they have an aberration in the 2011/2012 budget because they took-off from an extraordinary situation that happened last year," he said.
The extraordinary situation, Jarrett explained, was the $350 million in off-budget items that he said resulted in an "inorganic reduction" in the GFS deficit from the projected 3 percent to 1.7 percent.
"That created a false economy," said Jarrett. The 'norm' would have been to start at the 4.5 to 5 percent-plus GFS deficits recorded in the previous two years, according to the retired banker.
"We took-off from the 1.7 percent and added another point-and-a-half to create a 3 percent GFS deficit for 2011/2012, or $248 million. Now we're at 5.25 percent, similar to where we were the two years before that, which clearly shows we made a mistake in the way we assess that."
The banker said the review and updating of financial measures like the deficit, debt and GDP projections needs to be made and properly communicated to the Bahamian public on a quarterly, rather than annual basis. Two of the other basic components of budgets are that they must be adaptable and realistic, Jarrett said in the first phase of his review.
With his media tour underway, Guardian Business asked Jarrett what qualified him to conduct his analysis.
"I'm the best in the country at this time - simple as that. James Smith and I are the two best in the country," Jarrett said, referring to the former State Minister for Finance under the Christie administration.
"I'm not bragging about that. I've had 35-40 years of international and domestic banking experience. I was the government's banker for seven years at the Royal Bank of Canada, so I know the government in-and-out. The Central Bank, the Ministry of Finance - I was the government's banker for all of the government facilities, including its agencies.
Jarrett later added: "I don't know of anybody more qualified in the country [to do this] than me."
Nassau, Bahamas - Thursday, May 9, 2013 -
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) informs the general public
that it is not responsible for the reported "power failure" at the
Lynden Pindling International Airport(LPIA) on Thursday morning; May 9,
BEC maintains that the
temporary loss of power to the airport was due to a failure of equipment
owned and operated by the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD). BEC
notes that a controlled shutdown of the airport's electricity supply
was requested by NAD and accommodated by BEC. At 6:15 Thursday morning,
LPIA was taken off BEC's electrical grid. During this time, back-up
generation was to be used
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is in crisis. It has a quarter of a billion dollars in debt the government has to back, it may lose $50 million this year and it is unable to provide enough power to keep the lights on in the high-demand summer season.loyment problems.
Former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing Brensil Rolle said yesterday the Christie administration's new policy on shantytowns is a recycled version of the one that the Ingraham administration started before it was voted out of office.
Rolle, who headed the former government's initiative to clean up shantytowns in 2010, said the previous government caused thousands of squatters to be moved from government owned land.
Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett announced on Thursday that the government intends to crack down on shantytowns in The Bahamas. He said there will be consequences for people who live in such areas if they are not operating within the law.
Going forward, he said, shantytown occupiers will be required to provide an occupancy certificate, approved building plan permit from the Ministry of Works, approved Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) connection and approved Water and Sewerage connection.
He said if these cannot be produced, the Ministry of Works will take the necessary action.
But Rolle said this is nothing new.
"This is what we did," he said.
"In approaching the areas that were owned by the government we sent in a team of officials from the various agencies and assessed the physical environments.
"Once we did that, they came back with an indication of what was on the ground. We then set in motion a process to have persons removed from the shantytowns. We posted notices, and we had informational meetings with public dwellers.
"We then identified how much time they had to vacate the government's property."
He said the team included officials from the Department of Social Services, the Department of Immigration, the police force, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Housing.
Rolle said once the land was vacated, the government turned it over to the Ministry of Housing to be used for the development of low cost housing subdivisions.
"We did that in five specific areas where there were shantytowns," he said. "So what Minister Dorsett offered [on Thursday] was simply a plan that was already in place. But he's now announcing it as if it's their government's plan."
He said clean up efforts were carried out at Su Rock, Margaret Yard, Government Yard, Mackey Yard and another unnamed shantytown on Fire Trail Road.
While he could not recall the total number of squatters affected, Rolle said in the case of Mackey Yard, over 1,500 people were forced to move. He added that between 900 and 1,200 squatters on Fire Trail also vacated that land.
"So instead of the minister making these broad statements, he just needs to continue the plan and clean up the shantytowns," Rolle said.
Former Minister of State for Immigration Branville McCartney said he doubts the Christie administration has the fortitude required to clean up the shantytowns.
"No one has the political will to deal with it," said McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance.
"It's sounds good, but I'm curious about whether they will act on it.
He said he is skeptical about Rolle's "claims" about the clean up efforts that the former government carried out.
History cannot give us a program for the future, but it can give us a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of our common humanity, so that we can better face the future. - Robert Penn Warren
As we noted in parts I and II of this series, the march to Majority Rule in The Bahamas can be characterized by two words: sustained struggle.
On January 10, we quietly celebrated the first public holiday to commemorate the day that Majority Rule came to The Bahamas in 1967. It was a life-changing event that catapulted the lives of many thousands to unimaginable heights. Last week we reviewed three important milestones in the march to Majority Rule that helped to create the framework for the attainment of that achievement: the by-election of 1938, the Burma Road Riot of 1942, and the Contract beginning in 1943. This week and in the final week in January, we will continue to Consider This...what were some of the major milestones that contributed to the centuries-long march to Majority Rule?
The 1950s were decisively transformative on the march to Majority Rule. It was a decade that witnessed the formation of the PLP in 1953, the 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly and the 1958 General Strike.
The formation of the PLP
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was established in 1953, following an attempt by the Citizens' Committee to actively address some of the rampant discriminatory practices by the white Nassau elite. The Citizens' Committee, formed in December 1950 initially protested the government's refusal to let Bahamians view three films: "No Way Out" (starring Bahamian actor Sidney Poitier), "Lost Boundaries" and "Pinky" all of which addressed societal injustices. Many of the members of the Citizens' Committee, which was led by Maxwell Thompson, Cleveland Eneas, and A. E. Hutchinson and whose members included Jackson Burnside, Randol Fawkes, Gerald Cash, Kendal Isaacs, Marcus Bethel and other prominent personalities, suffered brutal discrimination and many of its members were deprived of the ability to earn a living by the Bay Street oligarchy as a result of their social activism.
In October, 1953 the PLP was formed by Henry Taylor (who would become the third Bahamian governor general in an Independent Bahamas from June 26, 1988 to January 1, 1992), William Cartwright and Cyril Stevenson with a platform that responded to the challenge by Rev. H. H. Brown that: "The Progressive Liberal Party hopes to show that your big man and your little man, your black, brown and white man of all classes, creed and religions in this country can combine and work together in supplying sound and successful political leadership which has been lacking in The Bahamas."
The PLP made bold progressive promises for a more equitable social structure including equal opportunities for all Bahamians, better education, universal suffrage, stronger immigration policies, lower-cost housing and the development of agriculture and the Out Islands.
In the early days of the PLP, its members were subjected to abject ostracism and victimization by the white elite, including the loss of jobs and bank credit, as well as canceled contracts. In 1955, Lynden Pindling and Milo Butler emerged as the leaders of the party, appealing to the black masses to mobilize in advance of the general elections of 1956. The party also attracted Randol Fawkes, the founder of the Bahamas Federation of Labour in May 1955.
The general election of May 1956 was the first to be fought by an organized political party. The PLP won six seats in the House of Assembly, four in Nassau and two in Andros. That election significantly accelerated the march to Majority Rule. In March 1958 the white oligarchy formed themselves into the second organized political unit, the United Bahamian Party (UBP). The UBP would later disband and its members would join forces with the Free National Movement (FNM) in 1972.
The 1956 Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the House of Assembly
In the wake of rampant racial discrimination that prevented access for black people to hotels, movie theatres, restaurants, and other public places, H. M. Taylor, the chairman of the PLP, whose platform vowed to eliminate racial discrimination in the colony, tabled a number of questions to the leader of the government.
Moved by this and in light of his own disgust with racially motivated practices, in January 1956, Etienne Dupuch, the editor of the Nassau Tribune and a member of the House of Assembly for the eastern district, tabled an Anti-Discrimination Resolution in the House of Assembly. During his passionately eloquent speech on the resolution, the speaker of the House of Assembly ordered Dupuch to take his seat, threatening, if he refused to do so, that he would be removed from the chamber by the police. Dupuch responded: "You may call the whole Police Force, you may call the whole British Army...I will go to [jail] tonight, but I refuse to sit down, and I am ready to resign and go back to the people." The speaker abruptly suspended the House proceedings.
Although the resolution was supported by H. M. Taylor, Bert Cambridge, Eugene Dupuch, C.R. Walker, Marcus Bethel, and Gerald Cash, it was referred to a select committee, effectively killing it. However, the following day, most of the Nassau hotels informed the public that they would open their doors to all, regardless of their race.
The 1958 General Strike
The General Strike began in January 1958 after several months of tension that arose because of the government's plans to allow hotels and tour buses that were owned by the established white tour operators to provide transport for visitors to and from the airport, at the expense of predominantly black taxi drivers who made a large portion of their living transporting tourists between the new Windsor Field (Nassau International) Airport and downtown hotels. To allow the hotels and tour companies to supplant the taxi drivers would severely curtail the ability of black taxi drivers to earn a decent living.
The government learned that the taxi drivers would vehemently protest this arrangement when they blockaded the new airport on the day it opened. On that day, nearly 200 union taxi drivers stopped all business at the airport for 36 hours, showing their determination to protest the government's plans. Negotiations on 20 points ensued between the union, represented by Lynden Pindling and Clifford Darling, the union's president, and the government for the following eight weeks, but broke off after they could not agree on one final point.
On January 11, 1958 the taxi union voted for a general strike and the next day the General Strike commenced with the cessation of work at hotels, which was supported by hotel and construction workers, garbage collectors, bakers, airport porters and employees of the electricity corporation. The strike lasted until January 31 and prompted a visit to the colony by the secretary of state for the colonies who recommended constitutional and political and electoral reforms which were incorporated into the General Election Act of 1959. Following the General Strike, male suffrage was introduced for all males over 21 years of age and the company vote was abolished.
Undoubtedly, the General Strike accentuated the ability of effective reform that could be achieved by the peaceful mobilization of the black majority.
Next week, we will review the decade of the 1960s and discuss how the Women's Suffrage Movement, the 1962 general elections and Black Tuesday culminated in the eventual attainment of Majority Rule with the general elections of 1967.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis & Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic & Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The minister of the environment and housing says that a shelved renewable energy project with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is back underway and should be completed next month.
Kenred Dorsett said that a grant from the IDB giving The Bahamas access to $600,000 worth of green technology encountered "a number of challenges" in recent years. Back in October 2010, Alternative Power Solutions (APS) won a bid to supply more than 130 solar water heaters and 33 solar electricity systems for home installation.
While the equipment has been gathering dust ever since, the government is now seeking to revisit the project and distribute the systems to homeowners.
"Our administration inherited a number of problems. A lot of the issues IDB had with the execution transpired before we came on board," he told Guardian Business. "One of the problems we had is the equipment, when it did arrive, did not have all the parts needed to complete the installation. We have resolved that, and subsequent to that, there was a financial component for those that won the bid to get the systems."
The minister said that all of the technology has been completely funded by the IDB. However, there is a cost associated with its installation, which the consumer must bear.
"What I have done is renegotiated some terms to have additional funding available to reduce the cost of installation. The challenge is a lot of people won the bid but did not have the economic situation to put the cash in ahead of time to have it installed. We want to make it easier for people," he said.
Dorsett explained that the government will honor the arrangements of those that signed up for the grant under the previous administration.
Noting that the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) has separate plans for renewable energy, the minister said these kinds of measures should assist in the general advancement of green technology.
"I hope it will be a pilot that will enable more people to see it on display and understand the benefits and know that it works," he added. "Hopefully when it comes to reducing the cost of electricity, it encourages other Bahamians to look at the technology as a solution."
Alex Storr, the chairman of BMC, revealed to Guardian Business that a new program will soon be rolled out to encourage more renewable energy for government housing.
The plan, he said, is to build future developments with the technology already installed, while offering competitive financing for existing clients in good standing, building the payments directly into a long-term mortgage.
Few subjects in The Bahamas are considered more significant than energy.
Earlier this week, politicians from both parties debated at length in the House of Assembly on the crippling cost of fossil fuels in the country and methods to reduce electricity bills for residents and businesses.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) made history yesterday when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a renewable energy company to produce ocean-powered electricity for the general public - a venture which will come at no cost to The Bahamas.
The landmark power/purchasing agreement, signed with Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC), will result in a commercial-grade plant built entirely by the U.S. based company.
BEC, in turn, will purchase the energy and provide it to the Bahamian people, becoming the first utility in the world to provide ocean-powered, base-load energy for market use.
In the end, according to BEC, it will provide reliable, affordable, cleaner and more efficient power.
Jeremy Feakins, the Chairman and CEO of OTEC, believes this project will be a "shining example" on the possibilities of renewable energy.
"The Bahamas will be an example to the world on how an island community can successfully follow the road to sustainable energy production," he told Guardian Business, adding that construction of the facility will take between two and three years.
"One of the great things with this model, is we not only bring the expertise, but also the financing. We design, build and operate the plants, and then sell the energy we produce.
"We do not look to BEC or the government for any money."
For the last several months, Feakins has been in close talks with Michael Moss, the Chairman of BEC, and Earl Deveaux, the Minister of the Environment.
Deveaux was unavailable for comment. Phenton Neymour, the Minister of State for the Environment, did not return calls before press time.
Meanwhile, Kevin Basden, the General Manager of BEC, called the deal a "historical time" for the company and The Bahamas.
Moss echoed his sentiments. He said there were a number of other renewable ideas being considered, but ultimately, ocean thermal energy was an original and practical solution.
Unlike solar and wind, ocean thermal energy can be produced 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, and doesn't require any fossil fuels to function.
Moss added that The Bahamas is uniquely situated to exploit this technology.
"The uniqueness of several islands being closely located near the tongue of the ocean and having access to rather cold water, but also warm water, is what makes this technology flourish," he said.
"The bigger the difference in temperature, the better."
Constructed adjacent to an existing BEC facility, the plant will, in essence, pump the frigid water from the depths of the ocean. Whilst warm water is simultaneously brought into the plant, and they are combined to produce great amounts of stream, which subsequently drives turbine generators.
The concept, seemingly science fiction, has other practical applications that will be invaluable to The Bahamas, including desalination for agriculture and seawater district cooling for air conditioners.
Located in Hawaii, OTEC's current plant has served as a test project for the company and is not commercial grade.
OTEC, in collaboration with the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii (NELHA), has explored the merits of ocean thermal energy conversion for decades.
The NELHA was first established in 1974 in part by the Hawaii State Legislature.
Today, in Nassau, the exact site for the commercial-grade plant has yet to be determined.
The next step, Feakins said, is for a team of engineers to arrive in Nassau and draw up the plans and designs.
"We are working out the schedule now, but I anticipate that will happen over the next couple of weeks," he added. "I don't think it will take us long to come up with the designs. In the end, what it will really come down to is what we charge for the electricity."
Feakins said OTEC is still determining how big the plant will be and how much it will cost, but he felt the price tag would easily surpass $100 million. He pointed out that it will be a commercial-grade plant, capable of powering homes and businesses.
However, because the technology is so cutting edge, Feakins said both sides want to minimize the risks and ensure no mistakes will be made.
In an earlier interview, Moss speculated that The Bahamas will derive approximately 10 percent of its energy from a renewable source, and 30 percent by 2030. It will take time, but he contends this is a giant leap forward in the manner through which Bahamians, and indeed the world, receive their energy.
"This is a very exciting time for us," he said.
"For OTEC, it's an excellent test for the technology, and eventually it might help them use this process [in] other marginal, less ideal conditions. For now, we are the ideal, but this could be a new beginning."
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Canadian company proposing to construct a $170 million waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill, a project that could create 50-60 Bahamian jobs, told Tribune Business yesterday it believed its technology was "a perfect fit" for the Bahamas' ambitions to become a global and regional renewable energy leader.
Bradley Smith, Plasco Energy Group's vice-president of business development, said the company remained "exceptionally keen" to be involved in any bidding process for a contract to supply the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) with renewable energy, even though that process had been placed on hold for the m ...