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Two new races were added to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, making it one of the biggest sailing events to be held in New Providence.
The E-class and sculling races are expected to be very entertaining, as hundreds of Bahamians are expected to come out to the regatta over the two-day sailing weekend.
The 'Catch Me If You Can' race is once again the headliner. That race will occur on the Sunday of the regatta, February 17. Skippers in the other classes will set sail on Saturday, February 16. The 26th annual event is set for that weekend at Montagu Bay.
Some of the sloops in the A-class chasing behind the Lady Nathalie this year will be the Southern Cross, the Courageous, the Red Stripe and the Palm Cay Princess.
Owner of the Lady Nathalie Eleazor 'Barber J' Johnson dared the other boat owners to "step up to the plate" and accept the challenge. He is confident that his prized possession, named after his mother, will sail on to victory and keep the winning streak alive. The Lady Nathalie will be sailed by Clyde Rolle.
"Thank God for saving my life, it was a hard road and I traveled the distance to reach the top," Johnson said. "I must thank all the sponsors, the committee members and persons who assisted me and who are always around me. The regatta time is a special event. It's like Christmas. I must say that we went way back from when it first started. We went from 1987 to 2013. That's how long this race has been going on, non-stop, and I must thank all the sponsors who helped. Mr. Sands helped me with the Lady Nathalie. He was there when the Lady Nathalie was built and he is still by my side. He has a true love for The Bahamas."
Young skippers will have an opportunity to show off their skills that weekend too, while veteran skippers will captain the E-class sloops sponsored by the Bahamian Brewery Ltd. The fleet of boats under the Sands umbrella sailing in the E-class are Sands Lite, Strong Back and High Rock.
Sir Durward Knowles will sponsor the 'Champion of Champions' award which will be presented to the winner of the C-class. Other sponsors this year are Coca-Cola, Aquapure, the Atlantis Resort, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Bristol Cellars.
"We are very pleased to be involved again with Eleazor Johnson known as the 'Sailing Barber'," said Berkley Williamson, general manager at the Bahamian Brewery Company.
"After 26 years, it is proof that he is very stable and that he wants the best for sailing. Our company, Sands Beer, is a young company but nevertheless we are privileged to be involved in an event that has been around for such a long time. We are happy to sponsor the E-class, the world's famous sculling boats like Sands Lite, High Rock and Strong Back. That race and the others are going to be very exciting. As a truly Bahamian company owned by Bahamians, we are so happy to be involved in this sport, because it is so indigenous."
The St. Valentine's Day Massacre will allow skippers to test their sloops, preparing for the 60th National Family Island Regatta in George Town, Exuma, from April 23-27, 2013.
By ALISON LOWE
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) customers will "likely" see a rise in the fuel charge component of their bill "in another month's time", given the delayed impact of higher oil prices on its costs, although efforts will be made to mitigate this through the use of higher-efficiency generation units.
Michael Moss, BEC's chairman, yesterday said that a trend of decreasing fuel charges for the last several months will likely turn around soon when the impact of rising oil prices, resulting largely from the unrest in Libya, is seen in BEC's fuel bill.
"The fuel charge for the last several months has been ...
Mike Sands, president of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), will closely monitor the track and field championships this weekend, the first full meet on the local governing body's calendar.
Sands will pay attention to the setting up of apparatuses and the execution of crew members working at the new Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The Baker Concrete/Greyco Ltd. "Star Performers Track Classic 2013" this Saturday will serve as a test for the executive members of the BAAA, the National Sports Authority and coaches as they prepare for the CARIFTA Games. Taking the ongoing work at the old Thomas A. Robinson stadium into consideration, Sands said a comprehensive assessment will be done in mid-March. The new facility is expected to be certified by the end of February.
"Over the past two weeks we didn't make full use of the stadium, so it is hard for us to see exactly what was needed and should be done" said Sands.
"When this meet concludes this weekend, we should have a better idea. This meet is a test for us. It will allow us to see the progress that was made, and the issues that we need to iron out. A full range of events will take place, and more persons will be here because the meet caters to all age groups.
"Right now, the athletes are warming up inside the new stadium. At the end of the day, it is expected that old Thomas A. Robinson stadium will serve as the warm-up track. That will mean less congestion and a smoother flow. The past two meets, the Odd Distance and the High School Relays, were not a good test. We didn't utilize the stadium like it is suppose to, so we weren't able to tell or see how everything will operate."
Sands said the BAAA is not under pressure and the membership board will not focus on the certification of the track. He added that the track must be certified in order to host the CARIFTA Games, set to take place March 28-April 1. It was revealed that a committee is in place to ensure the readiness of the multi-million dollar stadium. The new Thomas A. Robinson stadium was a gift to The Bahamas from China. It was officially opened on February 25, 2012.
The 15,000-seat stadium is under the control of the National Sports Authority. Sands confirmed that the relationship between the National Sports Authority and the executive members in the BAAA is very stable, and that both groups are constantly communicating.
"It is our duty to make sure that we are ready to host the visiting teams from the various countries in our region," he said.
"I continue to press upon my members that our focus will not be on the readiness of the track. There is a committee in place for that, and from all signs that I have been receiving, the track will be certified by the end of February. We are satisfied in knowing that it will be done.
"We are also satisfied in knowing that the National Sports Authority is working diligently and will use these local meets to correct any problems, so when they do launch at the CARIFTA Games it will be correct."
According to Sands, the stadium will be without lights for the next two weeks while final work with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is done. All meets that will be held at the stadium in the interim will have to be finished before sunset.
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.
The management of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has decided to pay bonuses to BEC workers, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Stephano Greene confirmed last night.
The decision came days after the executives at the corporation reportedly decided to defer bonuses.
Greene said staff at BEC got word from both management and BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday that bonuses will be paid next week.
Miller previously said that he sent a letter on Monday to BEC General Manager Kevin Basden indicating that a decision was made to defer the bonuses until the corporation is in a position to pay.
Greene said yesterday that BEC workers were relieved that the ordeal was over.
"It wasn't healthy," he said. "It wasn't necessary.
"We are happy that we can now sit to the table and build a relationship with the corporation and the chairman."
Greene noted that the union is willing to sit with the government to negotiate its industrial agreement.
"Anything they want to propose we will sit with them and discuss," he said.
Miller said last week the BEC employees may not get the $1.4 million in bonuses they expect to get this month.
"BEC has lost $22.6 million," Miller said. "There is no way we could afford to give them a bonus when we are losing $22 million."
But Greene had said that workers were expecting to receive their bonuses.
He said it would have been a violation of the union's industrial agreement if bonuses were deferred.
Miller was unavailable last night to comment further on the issue.
The Bahamas' construction industry could see a major turnaround by June, according to an industry executive.
Leonard Sands, vice president of the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA), said that 2013 is shaping up to be a "great year for construction".
He believes that commercial activity will drive the sector over the next few months, including the construction of plazas and strip malls.
"I think commercial projects like strip malls and plazas are going to continue to drive the construction sector. We now have another major shopping plaza on John F. Kennedy Drive. Prior to that, in the end part of August going into October we had a plaza on East Street by the Independence Circle. Now we have plazas going up on Carmichael Road, just before Bacardi Road where the new Wendy's is located," Sands shared.
"I am fully confident that this year will be quite different from 2012 and 2011 because of the indications and studies done so far."
Sands noted that some of his colleagues have already landed some big projects.
"You are starting to see the larger private home communities. There is more activity with people moving around and material purchases are being made," he explained. "I think going into 2013, some people have landed projects that were not scheduled to happen until later on in the year and they are starting to work on them now."
The BCA executive estimated that commercial activity will lead to an explosion in the residential market.
"Right now, we can look forward to there being a lot more activity in light construction on the commercial end, and then we are going to start to see the residential market really start to explode," said Sands. "When that starts to happen, then the business people will get involved. They will take out rental spaces. They will start to spend their money and then the people from those areas will decide to invest in the housing sector. That way the whole industry evolves."
In the meantime, Sands is calling on the government to focus on regulating the country's construction sector, as it continues to pose a challenge for stakeholders.
"We are hoping that the government will be focused on the regulation and legislation of the Bahamian construction industry. There's pent up demand and the lack of regulation is what causes foreign direct investment (FDI) to decide not to participate because investors need assurances, to participate in an industry that is trusted and regulated. The government needs to get to work on that," Sands added.
Last October, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development Philip Brave Davis told Guardian Business that the legislation surrounding the much-anticipated Contractors Bill had been circulated. However, there are still some outstanding issues that need to be ironed out, and an exact timeline for the bill has not been determined.
"A draft has been circulated but there are a couple of issues that we have to settle with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) with the electrical side of the bill and once those are put to bed, we will make arrangements on those provisions," he said.
The proposed bill has been designed to protect both contractors and consumers. According to the BCA, its introduction will bolster transparency when it comes to the awarding of contracts.
In essence, it could significantly improve the position of local contractors to win future projects.
Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Stephano Greene said the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) needs to hire another 300 people in order for it to run efficiently.
His statement is in direct contradiction to that of former BEC Chairman Michael Moss, who said on Sunday that BEC needs to shave down its employment numbers.
"In New Providence, when I was first employed at BEC, we had some 1,200 employees, now we have [more than] 980 employees and [the employees who are gone] need to be replaced," Greene told The Nassau Guardian. "We are understaffed at BEC and it's shown by the amount of time that is needed to be put in by staffers. The amount of overtime is directly proportional to the lack of staff."
However, Moss has an opposite view.
"While BEC's staffing complement had reduced significantly from a peak of around 1,600 several years ago to just over 1,000 at the time I demitted office, in my view, except for a few areas where minor under-staffing might exist, BEC remains over-staffed," Moss said in a statement Sunday. "The organization needs to be rid of unproductive individuals."
But Greene said any move to cut down the employee pool is not wise.
"I don't think it's realistic," Greene said. "The reduction of staff at BEC would cause more problems at BEC. Right now, in our humble opinion, we are grossly understaffed. What the public doesn't realize is that international standards say that one person should not be in a sub station in high power areas [for long periods of time]. And we have that in all of the Family Islands. That's called under-staffing. The union hasn't raised it as a major issue because we know that none of the Family Islands are profitable to BEC. And so if we can argue the point that we need more staff in the Family Islands in particular, that would cost BEC more."
BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said last week that BEC intends to implement a shift system as of March 1 in an effort to cut down on the overtime bill.
He suggested that if BEC could not reduce its expenses layoffs were possible.
Miller previously said the shift system would be introduced on February 1 to save the struggling corporation millions of dollars in excessive overtime. However, the date was pushed back as management attempts to get BEC's unions on board.
Greene said the union is willing to meet with BEC's board to further discuss the plans for the shift system.
Nassau, Bahamas - On Tuesday, January 22,
U.S. Chargé d'Affaires John Dinkelman hosted an event at Liberty
Overlook in honor of Mr. Gary Ward, the Director of American Affairs in
the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Policy and International
Affairs. The Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Renward Wells, The Hon.
Leslie Miller, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Bahamas
Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Mr. Gilles Deal, Energy Officer in the
Ministry of Environment and Housing were among the senior Bahamian
government officials at the event.
Exploding interest in The Bahamas and the Caribbean at large has sparked the Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) to announce it will be rolling out its first ever initial public offering (IPO) in the new year.
Fresh off the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) in Barbados, Jeremy Feakins, the Chairman and CEO of OTEC, said the response by political leaders there was "unbelievable", as no less than 10 countries requested detailed proposals for implementing large-scale alternative energy solutions for the general
The OTEC chief believes the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) - a world first - has served as a catalyst for other countries to get on board.
"It was unbelievable and these are very exciting times," he told Guardian Business.
"It's like a snowball. It tumbles down and picks up more snow as it goes - and we have only scratched the surface. Caribbean nations do not want to be held hostage by foreign oil. On the back of what we have learnt in the Caribbean, we have decided to move forward with a public listing next year."
The IPO - expected within the first half of 2012 - is intended to raise enough money whereby OTEC owns 51 percent of each project.
Feakins said the company is still deciding how much the IPO will be worth.
However, considering the two OTEC plants currently being designed and planned for The Bahamas will likely be more than $100 million, Feakins anticipated a great deal of capital will be sought.
And now, as a number of Caribbean countries - including Jamaica, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago - have entered negotiations to bring the same technology to their shores, he believes "we have work cut out for us".
"You can be environmentally friendly and save money - that is the message spreading, I think," he added.
"It is very gratifying to help provide a solution, although we have our work cut out for us."
In August, the MoU was signed between BEC and OTEC, which paved the way for the construction of two ocean thermal power plants.
OTEC will incur the full cost of building and maintaining the facilities, while BEC plans to purchase the renewable energy from the company for use among the general public.
Meanwhile, Baha Mar, the mammoth $2.6 billion venture emerging in Cable Beach, has announced a partnership with OTEC whereby the company provides air conditioning for the sprawling resort.
Baha Mar will become the second resort in the world to power it's air conditioning through this renewable energy method - with a possible savings of up to 90 percent.
The Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) has since expressed interest as well, with Feakins reporting that the company has sent information to interested parties.
"They asked us for information and we provided it," he explained. "We are always looking at hotels that want to switch from excessive amounts of fossil fuels to something that is more friendly."
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) plans to refinance $250 million worth of loans into a longer-term bond, giving the public entity access to the international capital markets.
A resolution tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday will guarantee the $250 million in debt, according to Michael Halkitis, the state minister of finance.
While BEC's debt portfolio becomes due in April 2013, a private placement could extend the terms for between 15 and 20 years, depending on the corporate appetite, and result in lower payments and greater cash flow,
Halkitis said that the refinancing of debt is the "first step" in repairing the government-run entity and reducing the costs of electricity for Bahamians. He noted that $211 million of the debt already carries a government guarantee, so the increase in contingency liability will be on the order of $39 million.
The minister told the House of Assembly that foreign currency financing is often predicated on the high cost of fuel for the island nation. In fact, Halkitis said fuel accounts for 64 percent of BEC's operant revenue and serves as a "tremendous drain on resources".
"At the end of 2003 crude oil was $35 per barrel, and it is now $95 per barrel. This places an exorbitant burden on consumers both residential and commercial," he said. "As a result of this burden, the previous administration agreed to a series of measures to provide relief to residential consumers through deferred payment plans."
While the plans helped consumers, the minister said it also weakened the corporation's balance sheet and necessitated more debt.
Leslie Miller, the chairman of BEC, said $200 million of loans will go directly to the refinancing of existing facilities. Around $35 million will be used for direct payments to BEC's fuel supplier, while the remaining $15 million is gobbled up by refinancing fees.
"Not a dollar of the $250 million loan extension will go to the corporation," he added.
For BEC's last fiscal year that ended in September, Miller projected a loss of $18 million.
The chairman has been aggressive in recent months over cost-cutting measures, including the elimination of excessive overtime payments, cracking down on theft and looking into the possibility of privatizing areas of the corporation.
Miller focused yesterday on the high cost of fuel and its crippling impact on both BEC and consumers. He did note, however, that the corporation's debt to its primary fuel supplier is now in excess of $80 million, down from $138 million not long ago.
The chairman took a moment to single out the private sector and its role in the corporation's financial woes.
"Over the years BEC continues to struggle with non-payments from the private sector. In 2010 it increased to $118 million, while in 2011 it jumped to $148 million. In 2012, there was a slight decrease to $143 million," he told the House of Assembly.
Overall, the corporation, which supplies 85 percent of all electricity in the country, spent $384 million on fuel in 2012.
"These escalating fuel costs have significantly hampered the ability for BEC to make its obligations to pay its bills," he said.
As the Ministry of Finance restructures the corporation's debt, Miller and his team will seek to cut costs and institute new measures to pull the public entity into the black.
A trove of renewable energy products arranged for by the government has been sitting in storage for over more than two years, Guardian Business can reveal. At least 130 solar water heaters and 33 solar electricity systems were brought into the country back in October 2010...
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
THE BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation's (BEC) executive chairman said yesterday it was too early to tell what impact the Government's assistance program for struggling customers would have on the Corporation's revenue streams, telling Tribune Business that based on the numbers thus far it had waived nearly $10,000 in reconnection fees.
Up to yesterday morning, 537 BEC customers had registered for the assistance initiative launched by the Government last week. Customers are now required to pay their current bill and make a payment on the overdue portion of their bill, but reconnection fees will be waived. The ...
NASSAU, The Bahamas - A
Resolution was tabled 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.
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. When rounded off to $250 million, the
As the government prepares to release its interim budget, top ratings agency Moody's is urging a redistribution of spending and tangible evidence of new revenue steams. Ed Al-Hussainy, assistant vice president and analyst at Moody's, said The Bahamas should...
Abaco, Bahamas - On Sunday 10th February 2013, around 3:20am, police received information of a traffic fatality on Forest Drive, Southside Road, Murphy Town, Abaco.
Reports are that upon arrival to the scene, police discovered a gray 1990 Ford Mustang
that had collided into a Bahamas Electricity Corporation light pole with a male driver still
inside the vehicle who was unresponsive...
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday that line staff at the corporation will now work on a shift system as of March 1, a delay of almost a month.
Miller said the delay is intended to get the union onboard as "We just want to work with each other." He suggested that if BEC could not reduce its expenses layoffs were possible.
Miller previously said the shift system would be introduced on February 1 to save the struggling corporation millions of dollars in excessive overtime.
However, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Stephano Greene said his members had no intention of working any such system yesterday or in the future.
But Miller said the system would go ahead regardless of the union's stance.
"All of the employees should work in the best interest of the corporation and by the extension themselves," he said.
"The board will do what is necessary to enhance the welfare of the corporation, whatever that is, including some layoffs if it is deemed necessary. It's up to him (Greene); the ball is in his court."
Miller said members of the executive management team, President of the Trade Union Congress Obie Ferguson, and the union discussed the matter on Thursday, although that meeting did not go as planned.
"Fifteen minutes into the meeting with Mr. Obie Ferguson explaining the rationale behind it, the president of the union Mr. Greene got up and said he's leaving, [because] he had to go and pick up his wife," Miller said.
"He signaled to the rest of his team and they left with him. Of course, he left on BEC's time and then the meeting was over."
However, Greene described the meeting as brief and said the union is not opposed to negotiating with Miller.
"The union has not negotiated any shift system with the corporation and until that happens there will be no shift system; however, BEC does have a 24-hour shift system in place now where we have [some] shift workers, who work at the power station and on emergency," he said.
"The union sat in the meeting with management where they presented their thoughts and ideas and they said they would send a communication to the union in writing, and next week we will receive that, and move forward from there."
Miller said he hoped Greene would "come to his senses" and see the move as necessary "if he is really interested in his membership here at BEC".
"You cannot be so disrespectful to the board and a person like Mr. Ferguson," Miller said.
"...I was shocked really, but I say you know, I guess the guy is feeling us out and he wants to show us he in charge, that they own BEC, and that the people of The Bahamas have no say, and the board of directors have no say, and so he did what he did."
Overtime pay at BEC last year exceeded $11.8 million.
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.
THE unions representing workers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation criticised the "lack of transparency" in the reform of the corporation and explained in a letter sent to Prime Minister Perry Christie that they have more questions than answers after a recent meeting with the KPMG advisors on the matter.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE US renewable energy company that has partnered with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Baha Mar yesterday said it was looking to establish a permanent operation in Nassau that would create "more than 20-25" full-time jobs. It added that its technology would save the Cable Beach developer 8 Mega Watts (MW) of power per year.
Jeremy Feakins, chairman and chief executive of Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE), told Tribune Business that the seawater district cooling plant it has committed to build and operate for the Cable Beach developer, which will involve an investment "in excess of $100 million", would reduce the $2. ...
A great divide remains between the Bahamas Electrical Utilities Management Union (BEUMU) and the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) over a new industrial agreement, which could lead to a strike by the managers, a union source told The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
The source said that while the union is willing to accept a reduction in the sum it is seeking from the corporation, the corporation is not willing to compromise on its position.
BEC has said it offered the BEUMU?$500,000 to be shared among its 120 members for the 2007-2010 period. For the period 2010-2013, BEC offered a two percent increase in addition to the near three percent increments and/or annual lump sum payments proffered.
Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation's (OTEC) $40.9 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been thrown into limbo following long delays to a key project.
The U.S.-based renewable energy firm, originally tasked with building a $100 million seawater district cooling plant for Baha Mar, received a major setback last year due to environmental concerns. And now, OTEC's application for a $40.9 million loan has been removed from IDB's website.
Robert "Sandy" Sands, the senior vice president of administration and external affairs at Baha Mar, said the loan is likely not relevant because the terms of the deal have changed.
While the issue "is not dead", executives have been forced to scrap the original scale and conditions of the project.
"We are looking at another possible business arrangement going forward," he told Guardian Business.
Jeremy Feakins, the CEO of OTEC, confirmed that talks are ongoing, although he did not wish to comment beyond that point.
According to representatives at the IDB, the project remains in the "internal pipeline". However, the date of the expected approval has changed.
Guardian Business was told that IDB executives are working to better determine the ultimate fate of the proposed loan.
In April of last year, OTEC and Baha Mar agreed to a 30-year power purchase agreement that would see the mega resort reduce its air conditioning costs by up to 90 percent relative to traditional systems and pricing.
"The energy savings generated by the project are expected to reduce consumption of 59,312 barrels of oil per year and prevent the subsequent release of 36,408 tons of CO2 each year, the IDB report said.
The project called for an offshore seawater intake located north of Long Cay and a pumping station on the island. Nearly 10,000 feet of piping would run across to a Goodman's Bay installation.
That installation on Goodman's Bay proved to be the project's undoing, as residents and environmentalists questioned the closing of the popular park for construction purposes.
Long-term effects to the ecosystem were also of concern to stakeholders.
The proposed project claimed it would generate up to 12,000 tons of air conditioning per hour, enough to provide full service to the resort's 2,250 hotel rooms, condominiums, convention center, restaurants and casino.
The status of OTEC's memorandum of understanding to construct a renewable energy plant for Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is also unknown.
How long does it take for a delivery truck to drive from a bank on Frederick Street in downtown Nassau to Cable Beach? Maybe 45 minutes on a bad traffic day. How long does it take for the Bahamas Post Office to deliver an ordinary letter that distance? How about 20 days. And from the BEC office on Baillou Hill Road to Cable Beach? How about 21 days via our Government-run postal service?
Atlantis resort, the country's largest private sector employer, will continue to invest millions to upgrade its property but there are no plans for a major expansion anytime soon, according to its president and managing director George Markantonis.
The 550-acre resort has 3,950 rooms, seven hotel properties, numerous amenities, attractions and residential developments and employs 7,700 people.
That number is expected to rise to 7,900 within the next two years, as new facilities open up at the resort.
Just in salaries and wages alone, Atlantis reportedly shells out $250 million and capital expenditure averages between $45 and $65 million annually.
"It's a very sizeable number when we talk about the salaries and wages and the people who can then have a direct economic impact on the community," he explained.
"We have to remember that government collects about $75 million in taxes and fees annually. I'm estimating that our Bahamas Electricity Corporation total spend will be $69 to $70 million. Last year, it was $66 million. It is probably one of the biggest concerns that we have. When you look at those numbers, you will notice that Atlantis has considerable importance in the economic fabric of what happens in the country. We work with all of our colleagues to make sure that the ship is steady, no choppy waters."
In relation to capital expenditure, Markantonis noted that anywhere from $20 to 30 million is required to freshen up the amenities by adding new items, whether it's restaurants, bars or other attractions.
While there are no plans for any major expansion to the massive property, Markantonis said the resort will be undergoing major upgrades in several areas that will ultimately improve its existing assets.
One of the undertakings is the 1,200 room tower that was opened back in 1998. That will be completely refurbished by the end of October, with one of those towers already completed, while work on the other is underway.
Next year the Cove property, which was opened in 2007 will be completely redone. Markantonis estimates that between the two towers, the upgrades will cost $25 million.
Plans are also in the works to add new attractions and amenities.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is unlikely to need the number of external consultants, upon whom it spent $10 million during its 2008 financial year, it currently hires, with "drastic change" needed to prevent already low employee accountability from "deteriorating further".
A report by the German firm, Fichtner, part of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded project to overhaul the energy sector in the Bahamas, warned that the lack of rules and policies for BEC employees to follow, coupled with the minimal risk of punishment for indiscipline and other infractions, was undermining the state-owned power monopoly.
Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Bradley Roberts criticized the government yesterday for failing to keep its promise to deliver cheaper energy bills to the Bahamian public.
"Despite the public commitments by BEC chairman (Michael Moss) and minister with responsibility for BEC Earl Deveaux, that cheaper energy bills were on the way, Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour said 'he does not anticipate any significant reduction in the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's fuel charge in the near future'," said Roberts in a statement released yesterday.
Indeed, Moss said in July of this year that, "customers will likely experience a reduced fuel charge, due to the combined effect of increased production from Clifton Pier and the downward trend in oil prices, beginning in October."
And earlier this month, Deveaux said that with the overhauled generators back online at BEC, customers would see "a reduction in electricity bills going more into October."
However, with less than a week left in October, Neymour said on Monday that a reduction in customers' bills would not be possible this month. According to him, BEC officials told the government that customers should have gotten lower bills this month. "However, if one were to look at the prices, particularly for heavy fuel oil and ... diesel, that may not be as anticipated," he said.
Roberts said that the disheartening performance of Moss, Deveaux and Neymour, "which is tantamount to gross negligence, has resulted in the FNM government's increasing of the basic rates of electricity, to counter the reduction of rates under the PLP."
He continued, "The hiking of the electricity rates by the FNM, during an economic downturn, is more of the same by this oblivious government."
A man was electrocuted as he worked on the Airport Gateway Project yesterday morning, authorities said.
Officials said it happened when a truck he was working on came into contact with an overhead power line.
The victim, identified only as a 48-year-old Jamaican man, was working near the intersection of Blake Road and John F. Kennedy Drive when the accident occurred.
According to a worker on the site, the victim was helping unload fill from a truck.
The man, who did not want to be identified, said the victim pulled a lever on the truck to release the fill. That's when the truck made contact with the electrical line.
When The Nassau Guardian arrived on the scene, the spot where he was reportedly standing when he pulled the lever was black and burnt.
The tires on the truck were also burnt.
The driver of the truck was unharmed.
Police said the incident took place around 9:45 a.m.
Underground technician Bradford Wallace, who was on site when the accident took place, said he witnessed the accident.
"I was standing at a distance of about 200 to 300 feet," Wallace said.
"I noticed the dump truck lifting to dump the fill and while it was lifting it touched the electrical line overhead and I saw a bunch of sparks, fire and smoke.
"I drove down closer to the site and noticed a gentleman lying on the ground. He had bad burns about his body."
Wallace said the incident has renewed his concerns about safety on the project.
"I think whoever's in charge should have the power turned off until they have the road complete because this is like the third time I've see incidents like this happen," he said, claiming that the other two incidents were not fatal.
"I think it's really dangerous working with this power and the trucks have to be lifted to unload the dump fill."
In a statement, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) expressed condolences to the relatives and colleagues of the victim.
BEC declined to give further information as the matter is under police investigation.
However, the corporation pledged to continue to work with the developers of the road project and all of its parters "to ensure the safety of workers and the general public during any project that directly or indirectly involves BEC's infrastructure".
This is the second fatal accident at the Airport Gateway Project this year.
Tyson Miller, 26, was crushed by a trailer in January. The accident happened near the roundabout at John F. Kenney Drive and Gladstone Road.
Miller slipped and fell in front of the moving trailer, officials said.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation (BEC) is targeting "a fairly aggressive $100 million-plus" capital expenditure programme for 2012, its executive chairman telling Tribune Business the planned investment was "two-and-a-half times" larger than in recent years.
Michael Moss said he was "relatively comfortable and confident" that BEC would be able to achieve its goals, which include upgrades to both its generation and distribution/transmission arms, despite facing the "challenge" of having to seek debt financing from commercial banks and other lending institutions.
Apart from adding a generation unit at both its Clifto ...
THE government suspects that oil found on Adelaide Beach last week was dumped from a passing ship and not a leak from the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Aviation and Transport Minister Glenys Hanna Martin told the House of Assembly.
Earl Deveaux is fascinated by agriculture.
As a former Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries who completed a Master's degree in Agricultural Economics, this isn't a new interest for the senior politician.
What's new for the current Minister of the Environment is the emergence of renewable energy technology that could help The Bahamas take control of its food supply - with the system already well on its way to becoming a reality.
"If we're thinking long- term, we need to look at where we can tie new technologies into other industries," he said. "Agriculture is one of them."
In August, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC), a renewable energy company in the U.S.
Two plants will be built in Nassau at no expense to BEC over the next few years.
In addition to becoming the first utility company to buy ocean thermal energy and sell it to the public for general use, Deveaux is looking closely at other applications for the Bahamian economy.
Jeremy Feakins, the Chairman of OTEC, told Guardian Business that apart from producing electricity, one of the further applications of the technology is it's ability to "harvest" cold, nutrient rich water from the bottom of the ocean for growing food.
"It's been sitting at the bottom of the sea for millions of years," he explained.
"That's the water we go after - it's very cold, nutrient rich and has no nasty chemicals."
He and Deveaux, along with other stakeholders, have had frequent discussions about creating sustainable agriculture through this method.
"Deveaux picked up on that during our last meeting and I know how interested he is in agriculture. This could be a huge opportunity to create employment and exciting export opportunities," Feakins said.
For Deveaux, he believes Nassau "is obvious" when it comes to its needs.
The Minister is looking further afield when it comes to agriculture, such as Andros, where there is plenty of land. The challenge will then be to effectively "ship that product to market".
As well as agriculture, fisheries is another important use of this frigid, nutrient-rich water.
"There is not enough seafood in the U.S.," Feakins added.
"Wouldn't it be nice to provide these employment opportunities and export opportunities. That is the mission we have in front of us right now."
The OTEC chief told Guardian Business that, similar to building the renewable energy plants and selling the electricity to BEC, the company has no interest in running or taking ownership of any agricultural or fishing industry.
Instead, it seeks to offer the training, equipment and skills needed to bring Bahamians up to speed.
Feakins felt the current cooperation and open-mindedness of Bahamian leaders to renewable energy solutions could have a far reaching impact on the future of the country.
"I told the Minister that this could be a shining example on how an island community can use alternative energy," he said.
"It's a powerful thing The Bahamas can show to the rest of the world."