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News Article
Hotels must address 'tremendous' energy wastage

Audits have found Bahamian hotels could be saving "a minimum" of 30 percent on their energy bills through a variety of "no-cost, low-cost and mid-cost" efficiency measures, a sector stakeholder has revealed, arguing that there is a "tremendous amount of wastage" that could easily be reduced with serious benefits to hotels' bottom lines.
Where steps towards energy efficiency require financing, Frank Comito, executive director of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), said policy support from the government could allow for The Bahamas to benefit from or emulate innovative financing mechanisms that are developing elsewhere in the region.
Fresh from attending the Caribbean Tourism and Energy Forum (CTEF) in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, Comito said hotels in The Bahamas are "lagging behind in best practices, even on the fundamental things they can do to be more energy efficient".
As a result, The Bahamas is behind the curve regionally when it comes to addressing high energy costs in the sector, with this having knock-on effects on the competitiveness of the tourism product.
His comments suggest that while the focus has traditionally been on the need for the government to take action to reduce energy costs via reforms such as those which are presently underway at the policy level with respect to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation, there is much more that can be done at the company level to lower costs.
Speaking of lessons learned at the forum, which was attended by several Bahamian delegates, Comito said: "From the specific presentations we saw, we are still not seeing enough being done to reduce lighting costs, air-conditioning and refrigeration costs, and perform regular and basic maintenance on appliances and motor-driven equipment.
"Hotels are also wasting a large amount of water, which has a corresponding impact on energy costs. I was a member of the opening stakeholders panel, and each of the panelists, myself included, pointed to the tremendous amount of wasted energy by hotels and countries because of the 'culture of usage', which we live in.
"Throughout the region, and certainly in The Bahamas, much more can be done by our people to reduce the amount of wasted energy," said Comito.
This concern was backed up by energy audits recently conducted on Bahamian hotels this year under the auspices of the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Programme (CHENACT), an internationally-funded program which has sought to identify how local hotel properties can reduce their costs through energy efficiency measures.
Comito said preliminary findings from these audits, which will continue into the new year, are that hotels can save a minimum of a third of their current energy costs without a great deal of investment.
Even as hotels lag "on a fundamental level" in terms of their implementation of best practices that could cut costs and address "basic competitiveness" issues compared to their regional peers, Comito said that the forum also made it clear that at the governmental level there is more that can be done in The Bahamas, notwithstanding the fact that the Bahamian government has indicated its intention to move towards energy reform.
"We are lagging. Our policies are outdated, particularly with regard to our public utility. The more progressive countries appear to be ones with privately run electricity utilities, something which the Bahamas government has indicated it is moving towards in part," noted Comito.
CTEF, which was held from December 10-11, billed itself as the first event to focus exclusively on lowering the electricity bill for the region's hospitality sector.
"There is no greater threat to the competitiveness of Caribbean tourism than the price of electricity. With rates which soar close to 50 cents per kWh in some markets, the impact on bottom line profitability is crippling. Yet the region's hospitality industry has found it challenging both to save energy and to generate it," the forum's organizers state on the event's website.
Financing mechanisms
Comito said that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) reported at CTEF that it will be establishing a fund specifically for the Caribbean to assist with developing ESCOs - energy service companies.
Such companies typically develop, install and arrange financing for projects designed to improve the energy efficiency of companies.
Comito said he is hopeful that once all of the CHENACT audits are complete, Bahamian hotels that require financing for some of the more advanced energy efficiency measures can begin to tap into some newly-established financing mechanisms.
"By mid-year, we're hoping that we can start serious discussions on financing models that could be considered for The Bahamas," said Comito.
The tourism executive noted that a number of financing models were shared at CTEF from which The Bahamas could draw inspiration as it seeks to reduce its energy bill, including private sector-led models in the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Colombia which received some measure of support from their governments and multilateral organizations.
"To make the financing mechanism workable in The Bahamas, we will need to have policy support from the government and the local banks will need to work with the sector. Multilaterals like the IDB and IFC will need to guide and assist with our efforts.
"Key though, is a commitment by the hotel owners, managers and employees to becoming more efficient and investing through practices and money in reducing their costs," he said.

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News Article


Tribune Business Editor

THE Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) yesterday moved to the "cutting edge" of renewable energy by executing an agreement that could ultimately lead to two multi-million dollar ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plants being constructed in this nation, together supplying about 10 per cent of its power needs.

Michael Moss, BEC's chairman, said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with US-based Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE) effectively made the Corporation and the Bahamas "pioneers" in this renewable energy field, as it could create the first plants "of utility scale".

The MoU, which translates years of re ...

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News Article
Miller slams Emera on energy costs

The chairman of Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) accused Canadian energy giant Emera yesterday of maximizing its profits "on the backs of the Bahamian people".
Leslie Miller, who is also the member of Parliament (MP) for Tall Pines, singled out Emera in the House of Assembly yesterday in a discussion on crippling energy prices across the country. Grand Bahama Power Company, which holds a monopoly on the island, is majority owned by Emera. The Canadian multinational has invested tens of millions in recent months to bolster infrastructure and efficiency on the struggling island.
It has also remained vocal on its commitment to the gradual reduction in energy bills.
However, Miller attacked Emera for imposing high energy prices on residents and businesses, which in some cases are triple the costs of consumers in nearby Florida.
"Here is a company that wants to make a profit in five years and pay off its debt on the backs of the Bahamian people," he announced yesterday.
The comments were partly spurred by news that the energy giant is considering a major multimillion-dollar investment in natural gas for the region.
Chris Huskilson, president and CEO of Emera, exclusively told Guardian Business last week that natural gas is integral to bring down the cost of energy. He noted that a specific team focused on natural gas for the region will be formed to bolster commercial and engineering capacity.
"We have earmarked capital to work through this natural gas approach and that could see tens, if not hundreds of millions in investment if we see the next step working," Huskilson said. "From an organizational perspective, we have a large capacity to raise capital."
The president identified a "common need" in both The Bahamas and Emera's interests across the region for natural gas.
For his part, Miller agreed that natural gas is cheaper and cleaner, offering a much better alternative to the oil, gas and diesel imported by the public corporation at great cost. The generators at major power plants could be repurposed to accommodate natural gas.
However, in the House of Assembly, he dismissed any notion of working with Emera given their activities in Grand Bahama.
"Tell him to go to Freeport and take the burden off the back of our people," he said yesterday.
In September 2008, Emera purchased 25 percent of GBPC through its acquisition of 50 percent of the shares in ICD Utilities Limited. In December 2010, Emera acquired an additional 55.4 percent interest in GBPC, bringing its direct and indirect interest to 80.4 percent.
ICD Utilities sole asset is a 50 percent stake in GBPC.
Since arriving in Grand Bahama, the company has committed to a gradual decline in electricity prices as it invests in infrastructure and efficiency.
In a statement to Guardian Business yesterday, Emera said there is no "overnight solution".
"While our rates remain competitive in this region, placing us in the lower end of the scale, we continue to work tirelessly on improving our service and stabilizing electricity rates for consumers," it read.
The company further noted that new $80 million West Sunrise Plant has helped improve reliability and stabilize rates. But the largest driver of electricity costs for consumers, Emera said, is the dependence on fossil fuels.
Sarah MacDonald, the president and CEO, of GBPC, has recently been appointed president of Emera Caribbean. The idea, according to Emera, is to apply a renewed focus and consolidate efforts towards alternative energy solutions, "specifically the possibility of bringing natural has to our businesses in the Caribbean".
"We understand that energy costs remain a concern for our customers, as they are for people around the world, and we have been working diligently on several fronts to address those concerns," Emera said in the statement.

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News Article
Govt approves 22 for road works relief

With just 10 days left to apply, the Ministry of Finance has received 58 applications and approved 22 businesses under its road works relief plan.
The government held a press conference yesterday at the Prime Minister's Office to encourage more Bahamians to seek compensation. According to Michael Halkitis, the state minister of finance, approximately 800 businesses in the capital were negatively impacted by the road works and could be eligible for relief.
"January 18 is the deadline, so we encourage those businesses who have not already done so to submit their application," he said. "We are very encouraged by the geographic diversity of applicants, from Robinson Road, Market Street, Blue Hill Road and Prince Charles Drive. The program has been embraced by large and small businesses, the most attractive feature being the electricity rebate and micro loan facility."
Back in November, Guardian Business exclusively revealed that the government's road works relief plan would include a menu of exemptions and benefits for businesses, including a 10 percent discount on electricity bills for 18 months, a six-month credit on customs duties, competitive loans from the Bahamas Development Bank and relief on property tax and business licenses for six months.
However, the plan has also been tweaked along the way.
Perhaps most significantly, Halkitis said yesterday that businesses with branches outside the impacted areas will also be allowed to submit for benefits. While he did not wish to mention any specific businesses, that should be music to the ears of large chains such as Superwash and Super Value.
"They will be considered as well. They will be treated in the same way," Halkitis explained.
The government has also added a program whereby applicants can receive a deferred payment plan for electricity bills. Customers that have been disconnected, and want to reconnect and eliminate arrears within a 24 month period, can do so based on regular, irregular or lump sum payments.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) will not charge a reconnection fee to these businesses, according to the plan.
Halkitis told Guardian Business that the micro loan option, allowing any business to borrow up to $10,000 from the Bahamas Development Bank under attractive terms, was especially helpful over the holiday season for restocking products.
The total size of that loan facility is $3 million for all businesses.
In all, the plan has been valued at around $15 million, although the state minister of finance noted that very little cash will be put on the table by government.
"Most of this plan is non-cash. The government is not coming with up with grant money," Halkitis explained. "We are using some of the receivables BEC owes the government, for example, so it's not direct cash."
The road works relief plan has been highly divisive among the business community.
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) came out in support of the plan late last year, prompting Rupert Roberts, the owner of supermarket giant Super Value, to declare his resignation from the organization.
The Coconut Grove Business League has also voiced strong opposition and continues to seek legal action against the government.
The disastrous road works, implemented by the Free National Movement, spiraled more than $100 million over budget and well behind schedule.

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News Article
Feakins: Price of renewable energy 'competitive'

Renewable energy produced for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) will be sold at "competitive" prices and Bahamians can expect new employment opportunities as construction moves forward, according to Jeremy Feakins, the CEO of the Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation  (OTEC).
In a landmark deal, BEC will become the first utility company in the world to deliver ocean-powered electricity to the general public.
Through a power/purchase agreement, OTEC will incur 100 percent of the designing, maintenance and construction costs.
The two commercial-grade plants, costing upwards of $100 million, will be built to over the next few years.
Feakins said the venture is intended to help the Bahamian economy.
"I can almost guarantee BEC wouldn't buy energy from us unless it was competitive," he told Guardian Business.
"That was made clear from Minister Deveaux [Minister of the Environment].  We feel very confident to do that, or we wouldn't spend the money."
The OTEC chief added that the company seeks to hire Bahamians "where we can". He is also in talks with several Bahamian contractors to build the ocean thermal plants, although he said plans are tentative at this point.
"Clearly we'd like to use local labor where we can," he said.
"There is no sense in bringing people from the U.S. if we don't have to. We would use local labor and local contractors wherever we can and we have had discussion with local contractors here."
On Thursday, BEC signed the Memorandum of Understanding with OTEC.
Kevin Basden, the general manager of BEC, called the deal a "historical" moment for both the company and The Bahamas.
Feakins felt it would be a "shining example" of the possibilities of renewable energy.
Ocean thermal energy, a technology that has been researched for decades, seeks to pump cold water from deep into the ocean into a seaside power plant. This water is then combined with warm water to produce steam, which moves the turbines and produces electricity.
Although the method has been practiced and studied before, The Bahamas, according to Michael Moss, the Chairman of BEC, is an "ideal" candidate to take the technology to the next level.
The Bahamas is located on a unique stretch of ocean with excellent access to particular currents and varying temperatures of water.
Feakins expected engineers from OTEC to arrive in Nassau in the coming weeks.
Moss and Feakins both stressed to Guardian Business that ocean thermal energy is a cutting-edge technique and The Bahamas will truly be ground-breaking in its efforts to bring the power to the general public.
With this in mind, Feakins envisioned it would take time before it could replace or significantly put a dent on the use of standard electricity, although he thought it could provide 30-to-40 percent of the country's energy needs down the road.
"Frankly, we are going to learn a lot," he said.
"The development work on the BEC plant will pave the way for larger plants in the future. We look forward to making The Bahamas our major customers - once we prove it can be done, that it's clean and cost competitive, we look forward to doing more."

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News Article
What is going on with BEC

Dear Editor,
What on Earth is going on with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation? Its executive chairman Leslie Miller said, just a few months ago, that they didn't anticipate any outages this summer, which would have probably been a first in Bahamian history.
As it turns out, though, things are actually worse than in any year I can remember. Every excuse has been given, from lightning strikes to mysterious spontaneous shutdowns. Now, with the latest island-wide meltdown over the weekend, they seem to have given up even on the excuses, saying they will launch an investigation as to what happened and report back to the public later.
The opposition jumped into the mix, with Free National Movement Chairman Darron Cash calling BEC under the current administration a "disgrace". But the truth is, although this may be a bad year, power generation and supply in this country has left much to be desired as far back as anyone can remember.
Why is it so difficult to get it right? I can understand the argument that we are an archipelagic nation, a chain of islands, and supplying so many different centers of population separated by water is a tricky proposition.
Fine, but why can't they keep the lights on just in New Providence? All around the world, in many countries less developed than The Bahamas, they manage to keep the lights on. Rather than blaming each other, I wish for once that politicians would just level with the Bahamian people and tell us what the problem really is.
Is it because they have repeatedly staffed BEC with unqualified supporters as a reward for their support, to the point where most people who work there don't really know what they are doing most of the time? Is it that repeated disputes between successive governments and the unions that represent BEC have disillusioned the workers and left them apathetic and less than diligent at their jobs?
Or does it have nothing at all to do with the workers, being instead a matter of bad choices by those at the top in terms of equipment and strategy? Has the price of fuel become so expensive that it eats up most of BEC's budget, to the point that vital repairs and upgrades cannot be undertaken?
And if the problem is any of the above, why do we not simply do what people all around the developed world are doing - take a significant portion of the responsibility for power generation away from the BEC workers AND the politically-appointed heads of the corporation, allowing residents to use alternative means to create their own electricity, and even sell some of it back to the grid?
Please, would someone, anyone, who was elected to represent the public answer all, some or even any of these most vexing questions?
- F. Rolle

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News Article
Govt eyes 700M deficit

A key advisor to the Christie administration says the government will likely have to borrow an additional $150 million to service commitments not fully accounted for in the original budget.
James Smith, who is also a former state minister of finance, noted that the new government had "very little input" and insufficient time to craft a rock-hard assessment of spending. When the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won the May election, much of the budget had already been crafted and a number of debt obligations were on the books.
"There was no time," he said yesterday.
"After sitting in for a while, you begin to see things you wouldn't have known from the outside. One of those things was a number of projects in different stages in the pipeline that were not funded."
As an example, Smith referenced the expansion of the critical care block at Princess Margaret Hospital as a major liability to be reckoned with.
The project, initiated under the Ingraham administration, should eventually cost around $60 million to complete and another $50 million to outfit with medical equipment.
The PLP has also had to engage in special borrowing through the Inter-American Development Bank to fund the disastrous road works project. In addition, the government has introduced new programs such as the Mortgage Relief Plan and the Road Works Relief Plan, although these initiatives are expected to have a relatively modest impact on the public purse.
What it adds up to, in his estimation, is more borrowing to the tune of $100 million to $150 million.
That's in addition to the government's original $550 million deficit for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which ends in July. The government also has a rising debt-to-GDP ratio of approximately 60 percent after including liabilities from public corporations, such as Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Water and Sewerage Corporation and Bahamasair.
"I think what has happened is when you have a change in government at that time, a full accounting didn't take place of the work in progress or commitments," Smith added.
The government is expected to make an announcement on the borrowing sometime in February when presenting the interim budget.
Earlier this month, State Minister of Finance Michael Halkitis said spending commitments and unforeseen circumstances will mean more borrowing, although he did not go into specifics at this time.
He did not respond to Smith's comments before press time.
"If we have to do anything additional, it will be because we have to pay for what they call prior commitments, things that have been purchased that there was no money for and anything unforeseen, like contingencies, things that come up," he told reporters. "But we'll get a full picture during the budget."
Late last year, Moody's downgraded the country's economic from A3 to Baa1. It was the second downgrade by the international rating's agency in as many years.
Analysis told Guardian Business from Wall Street that the most recent downgrade was not entirely the fault of the current government. While the PLP has inherited some difficult circumstances, Moody's also urged the government to move faster in achieving cost-cutting measures and bringing on new streams of revenue.

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News Article
Roberts: Taxpayers losing out with new straw market

Bahamians will have a new Bay Street straw market that is 20 percent the size of what makes sense for current and future usage, but costs $5 million more than what was budgeted for by the Christie administration, former Minister of Works and current Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) chairman Bradley Roberts has claimed.
Roberts said this will include $16 million in construction costs and $11.2 million in "stop, review and cancel compensation fees".
He made the remarks during the opening of the PLP's Job Creation and Empowerment Summit at Workers House on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway on Wednesday night.
Within weeks of coming to office in 2007, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham announced in the House of Assembly that his administration was canceling the straw market contract the Christie administration entered into earlier that year with Woslee Construction Company.
This meant that all the professionals involved in the contract had the rug pulled from under them.
The government has never detailed the financial loss to the public as a result.
But Roberts said the cancellation resulted in a loss of the $2.3 million construction deposit; loss of fees due to the termination and hiring of new architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and a general contractor; and additional legal costs for attorneys or arbitrators in respect of a recent judgment against the government.
The Nassau Guardian recently reported that an arbitrator has determined that the Ingraham administration was in breach when it canceled the contract.
As a result, retired Supreme Court Justice Jeanne Thompson determined that the government must pay damages to Arconcepts Ltd., the architect and lead consultant for the contract.
The government must also pay damages to the sub-consultants -- George Cox and Associates, the project's structural engineers and Pyramid Industries, the mechanical contractor.
"Who here thinks that Bahamians just have money to throw out like that?  Who here believes that Bahamians deserve better, deserve a government ready to invest in them instead of throwing money out for political reasons?  They didn't do right by the straw vendors.  They didn't do right by the Bahamian people.  They just looked after themselves."
Roberts said the government "which has presided over massive job losses has to tell 190 vendors that they cannot be accommodated in the new market".
As minister of works, Roberts was intimately involved in negotiations for the contract signed under the Christie-led government.
He noted that the PLP administration executed a contract to build a 165,000 square foot market for $22 million, including a Bahamas Electricity Corporation electrical infrastructure upgrade, accommodating 630 vendors in stalls no less than 48 square feet in size.
The cost of the construction was then estimated at $133 per square foot, Roberts said.
"It was a good design at a good price," he said.
"The FNM's response?  They cancelled it.  They couldn't let the PLP take credit, after all.  Remember, they always put politics first, they never put Bahamians first."
He said the Free National Movement government executed a new contract to construct a 37,000 square foot market tendered at a cost of $11.2 million, excluding BEC electrical infrastructure upgrades.
"The cost of this project, now in the final stages of completion, has been revised upward to $16 million," Roberts said.
"Instead of accommodating 630 craft vendors it can only accommodate 440 vendors.  Instead of stall sizes of 48 square feet, the stalls are only 12 square feet.
"The adjusted cost of construction for this mini-facility, which makes no allowances for growth or variety, has been estimated at $432 per square foot -- $301 more per square foot than that contractually agreed under the PLP government."
He said the PLP's proposed straw market was a four-story structure with the rooftop fourth level dedicated to other income generating amenities, such as restaurants, entertainment facilities and a 100-foot tall panoramic observation tower.  It had scope for expansion and further variety and would have cost taxpayers $133 per square feet, Roberts repeated.
In contrast, the newly constructed market is approximately 2.5 stories, with one floor designated to accommodate vendors and no room for growth or expansion, according to Roberts.
All things factored in, the estimated overall development cost for this market is $27 million or $730 per square feet, he said.
"You don't need me to do the math - you're paying a lot more for a lot less," Roberts said.
After canceling the straw market contract, the Ingraham government signed a contract with Cavalier Construction for a new market, which replaces the market destroyed by fire in September 2001.

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Ministry of the Environment addresses GB oil spill

Minister of the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett yesterday said the oil spill that occurred on Sunday morning in waters off Grand Bahama was caused by an overflow of diesel fuel when a ship was being refueled.
Dorsett said 210 gallons of diesel oil ultimately spilled into the surrounding water.
However, according to Captain Ray Darville of Overseas Marine Group, who helped clean up the spill, thousands of gallons of oil spilled into the surrounding harbor and coast.
It was the second spill on Grand Bahama since last December.
Dorsett, as well as the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, sent out a statement on the spill that occurred off the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO) site in Freeport Harbour.
"The Ministry of Environment and Housing was informed of an oil spill in Freeport Harbour due to an incident involving an overflow of light diesel from the bunker barge Smit Inesita to the MT Butterfly just before sunrise," Dorsett said.
"The ministry is informed that once the overflow was noticed, the MT Butterfly shut down the operation a half hour into the operation."
He said that BORCO conducted a walkabout of the impacted area with the Port Department adding that an investigation into the cause of the spill is ongoing.
The Ministry of Transport and Aviation's statement said the spill occurred at approximately 5:06 a.m. on Sunday when the Butterfly was moored at BORCO.
"The ship's oil spill plan was activated and the governmental authorities were subsequently notified," the statement read.
"Anti-pollution equipment, materials and kits, such as containment booms, absorbing pads, rolls, sawdust, absorbing mats and wilding pumps were deployed in response to the oil being discharged in the marine environment.
"Assistance was also rendered by BORCO and STATOIL providing additional containment booms and other anti-pollution equipment, and materials, and kits."
An aerial inspection of the area was done by the Port Department and small pockets of diesel were reportedly discovered.
The statement noted that clean up of the area was ongoing.
"The Ministry of Transport and Aviation has launched a complete investigation into this incident to ascertain all the facts," the statement read.
"All ships documentation and procedures will be reviewed to ascertain the volume of oil discharged and to determine the root cause of the incident. If found to be appropriate in accordance with the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act, sanctions will follow."
The ministry noted that the government remains ready to deal with future oil spills.
"The protection of the marine environment is crucial to the growth and development of The Bahamas," said the statement.
"The Ministry of Transport and Aviation advises all marine operations to ensure that due diligence is being exercised in all facets of their operations and to ensure that safety is never compromised.
"The pollution of the marine environment will absolutely not be tolerated and where violations are found penalties will be imposed."
A tier 1 oil spill occurred off the coast of Grand Bahama last December, after a Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) container vessel reported a "slow leak".
That spill covered about 12 miles off the coast.
Shortly after that spill, an estimated 70,000 gallons of fuel spilled into the ground from a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) fuel storage facility at Rock Sound, Eleuthera.
BEC Chairman Leslie Miller said officials suspect that an unknown thief had been siphoning thousands of gallons of fuel from the storage facility for some time.

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US firm to generate electricity from tropical waters in the Bahamas

Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTE Corporation) from Lancaster, Pennsylvania (US) has won a contract to design its first two commercial plants that generate electricity from temperature differences in ocean water.

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BEC middle managers to take 'immediate strike action'


Tribune Staff Reporter

MIDDLE managers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation have decided on strike action "effective immediately."

The Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU), which represents around 100 members, is at odds with the Corporation over an industrial agreement.

Ervin Dean, union president, said: "We have resorted to strike action effective immediately.

"We have been meeting over the past several weeks and basically accomplished nothing. We have asked them repeatedly to comply with the industrial agreement, they have refused. They have refused to budge."

Mr Dean said his union is trying to get BEC ...

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Govt to revisit IDB green grant

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.

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Roberts reports 1M lost in copper theft

Businesses and government agencies are reporting major losses as a result of rampant copper theft.
Super Value, the country's largest supermarket chain, has lost approximately $1 million over the last five years, according to its owner Rupert Roberts.
"Copper theft is a serious problem in the country. Within the last five years, I have easily spent $1 million in equipment replacement and down time. These thieves at different times have disabled most of our stores, Wulff Road, Baillou Hill Road, Golden Gates, Mackey Street, Robinson Road. Copper theft even delayed the opening of our Quality Markets location in South Beach by at least a month or two," he explained.
During a press conference yesterday, Roberts stressed that copper thieves have been disrupting businesses, homes and government agencies like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and ZNS by ripping out equipment made of or containing copper.
He said copper theft over time has become a cost to both merchants and consumers, similar to payroll or rent.
While Roberts maintains he has never sent any staff member home as a result of copper theft, it is becoming increasingly difficult to absorb these losses.
"When thieves steal store equipment, it has the potential of closing the store for months, putting 40 to 50 employees out of work. Also, if the disruption is not caught in time, you can lose up to $250,000 worth of perishables for lack of refrigeration. When that happens, there is also the need to replace thousands of dollars of Freon, which they release into the environment when they cut or break the tubing," Roberts explained.
"We have never sent a member of staff home as a result of copper theft. We try to find other duties and not send people home in any circumstances no matter what happens to us. That never enters our mind to send them home. But if a store is completely disabled for three months, we would have to consider sending them home."
Leslie Miller, BEC's chairman, also confirmed that despite the corporation being outfitted with cameras, guard dogs and security officers, it continues to register major losses from cooper thieves.
"People cut wires from our plants on a weekly basis. They will take rolls of wire about six inches in diameter and just take as they please. You can't stop a thief; you can only slow them down," he said.
Miller, who also owns several businesses, including Mario's Bowling and Family Entertainment Palace, added that he has been a victim of copper theft on more than one occasion.
"This situation with copper theft has gone on for far too long. Just a few months ago, some partners and I decided we were going to open up the old Robin Hood location with a new name - Save Mart. We were getting the financing in place. One morning we arrived on site to get some people involved on the project and we found that every piece of copper was stolen. Air condition units were stolen as well. That replacement cost was in excess of $200,000 but they probably got less than $5,000 for the goods," he told reporters.
Other businesses like Bahamas Food Services (BFS) also reportedly lost thousands of dollars, when $85,000 worth of copper was stolen from a 20-foot container.
Miller and Roberts are calling on the government to implement a permanent ban on the exportation of copper.
"If we don't stop them from exporting copper, businesses are going to be closed down because it is affecting the ordinary lives of Bahamians that work in these enterprises," Miller said.

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News Article
Bahamas Electricity signs deal with US thermal company

NASSAU, Bahamas, (September 22, 2011) - Bahamas
Electricity Corporation (BEC) today signed into effect a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU) with Ocean Thermal Energy Corporation (OTEC) to
develop two ocean thermal energy conversion plants in The Bahamas.

Bahamian plants will be the world's first ocean thermal energy
conversion facilities to utilize ocean water for clean energy, fresh
drinking water and sustainable food production in a commercial capacity.

two plants will be entirely built and operated by the
Pennsylvania-based clean energy company, requiring the BEC to purchase
the energy from OTEC...

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News Article
Impasse in union negotiations with BEC

The Bahamas Electrical Utility Workers?Union (BEUWU) and the executive management of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has reached an impasse in their contract negotiations and strike action could come at any time, according to BEUWU President Irvin Dean.
The Nassau Guardian understands that 30 minutes into talks yesterday morning, both sides failed to reach an agreed position in negotiations, which resulted in the breakdown.
“We gave management notice that we are resorting to industrial action effective immediately. It does not involve a work stoppage, but what it does involve immediately is that we will not be working overtime. My membership is agitated... Strike action could come ...

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News Article
Chamber: 'Time is of the essence' on energy reform

"Time is of the essence" when it comes to energy reform, and a government decision that will reduce energy costs must be made "as soon as practically possible" to offset the "long-term negative effects" on disposable income of value-added tax (VAT) and other measures, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) has warned the government.
Writing in a letter sent to Prime Minister Perry Christie, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis and other key officials, the BCCEC, which yesterday released a major report on the potentially massive economic impact of an energy overhaul, spells out the importance of minimizing any further delays in a decision on reform.
"It is critical that decisions that will reduce energy costs are implemented as soon as practically possible in order to lessen the long-term negative effects on disposable income as a result of the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), along with other increased taxes and costs implemented in the past 18 months. While there will be no immediate dramatic decrease in electricity costs, the selection of appropriate sources of energy generation and service providers, along with upgrades in transmission and distribution channels, could provide significant reductions in costs in less than two years," BCCEC Chairman Robert Myers and Vice Chairman Gowon Bowe state in the letter.
The chamber also argued that it is nonetheless "imperative" that the government include all stakeholders, including the BCCEC, in the process, imploring the government to reconsider an offer made by the BCCEC to "collaborate with it in the process of evaluating the appropriate means of power generation, transmission and distribution, and ultimately the selection of suitable service providers".
The chamber suggests that it has specific expectations for any provider selected through the reform process. These expectations arise out of a report produced for the chamber (see page B1 of Guardian Business) by consultants Oxford Economics, on energy generation and its economic impact, which looked at the major cost savings, and spin-off economic benefits, to be derived from incorporating alternate fuel sources Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) and pipeline gas into the country's energy generation matrix.
Their expectations include ensuring that any provider selected must "guarantee significantly reduced" energy costs; have ties to "low cost sustainable fuel sources"; a proven track record, "vast experience, and impeccable references" based on provision of services in the Caribbean, Central America and/or North America; and have a solution for the "extinguishment of the existing debt at BEC and related government guarantees".
In addition, the provider should deliver "better quality power, cleaner emissions and less pollutants to the environment," state the two BCCEC executives, with such specifications key to ensuring that any deal signed provides for the opportunity for higher GDP growth and lower unemployment.
The letter was sent out by the BCCEC this week to Christie, Davis, Minister of the Environment Kenred Dorsett and Minister of State for Investments Khaalis Rolle, along with the report by Oxford Economics, a U.K. consultancy, titled "Economic impact of the Bahamas Generation and Utilities Corporation (BGUC) proposed power plant facilities in The Bahamas".
BGUC is one of the bidders in the BEC reform process, and includes U.S.-based Caribbean Power Partners, Fluor Corporation and Pro Energy Services.
The analysis suggests that installing new power production facilities, which BGUC proposes to do at its own cost, along with utilizing natural gas - either shipped or better yet, piped - would generate major power cost reductions in The Bahamas.
In doing so, it should spur significant increases in GDP, employment and investment.
Guardian Business understands that the BCCEC partnered with BGUC and Oxford Economics to produce the report after finding itself locked out of the BEC reform decision by the government, which has been shrouded by the use of a non-disclosure agreement that binds all involved from discussing the process openly.
"People may pick on how we arrived at the end result, but if the government had collaborated we wouldn't be in that position. The only way we could get that information to feed into Oxford Economics was to pick someone who had the information. We picked someone, and the process wasn't perfect, but the focus needs to be on the numbers versus how we got the numbers.
"Rather than this being a recommendation of BGUC specifically, we wanted to use it to show them what savings are possible. We chose a route that would allow us to understand the economic impact and this company helped us get there," said Myers in an interview with Guardian Business yesterday about the decision to go ahead with the report, adding: "They can't dispute the numbers; the energy cost savings".
Myers reiterated that the chamber does not understand why there has been such a significant delay in concluding the BEC reform process which began in August of last year.
By releasing the report, the chamber could essentially be construed as putting further pressure on the government to justify why it is delaying the BEC decision and further energy reforms which could reduce the cost of power to Bahamians, and spur growth in the economy.
Should the government move ahead with a proposal that involves primarily powering the country through natural gas this would mean a major shift from the current status quo, cutting out BEC's current major fuel supplier, BISX-listed FOCOL, from a large chunk of business. However, the report suggests that in doing so, it could generate major economic benefits as a spin-off.
"The numbers with whatever form, diesel, or gas - gas being the preference - the reductions in costs to the consumer, the government and the public are massive. The knock-on implications are even larger; you become more competitive, you've got considerably more disposable income now left at the feet of government and the public, so that will have a positive impact on GDP and it will counter balance to a great degree VAT," said Myers.

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News Article
Government to pay 18 million to BEC

Tribune Staff Reporter

THE Ministry of Finance plans to allocate $18 million to take a sizable chunk off the government's electricity debt.
In announcing the payment to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) in the House of Assembly yesterday, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said there is "far too much wastage" in the public sector where energy consumption is concerned, and the government is "determined to make significant improvements.”
Last year, Michael Moss, BEC executive chairman said the government's account was $40 million in arrears.
Mr Ingraham said the government was trying "to do a better job at keeping current ...

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Miller apologizes for BEC blackouts

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.

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News Article
St. Valentine's Day Massacre is up next

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.

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News Article
Seeing is believing for energy savings

A big part in managing your energy use effectively goes beyond changing habits or improving the efficiency of your appliances.
In order to get on the right track, some level of monitoring is important.  As the old saying goes - seeing is believing.
A very first step can be achieved by ensuring that you understand how the utility is charging you.  All consumers may wish to take advantage of the website set up by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
By placing the following in your browser you can go straight to the page that shows you how to read your bill:
For commercial customers, the rates and rules are different, as these clients are charged for peak demand, actual usage and the fuel surcharge.  I encourage all consumers to read through the information on the site and sit with the utility if necessary to ensure you understand how you are being billed.
It's a good idea to collect and retain at least 24 months worth of bills and track how your kWh usage changes from month-to-month to see if you pick up any patterns.
Once you understand your bill, there are any number of products out there to help you determine which devices are really consuming the most energy.
An inexpensive but powerful device is the Kill-A-Watt power monitor.
You can simply insert this device into the wall receptacle and then plug in your two pin appliance.  It has a digital display that will let you see how much power is being consumed when your device is on at full blast, as well as when it is supposed to be off.
This device is useful for determining  which of your small devices use the most power.  The results may surprise you.
The Energy Detective is useful for residential consumers and offers the ability to see in real time your consumption of power. I like the version that requires a wireless internet connection and would recommend having a professional do the installation.
You can do the software set up yourself. Once installed, you can go through your regular routine over the course of the day and see how your power consumption changes.  Very revealing will be how your usage changes when your home is unoccupied.
For a bigger investment, The Green Switch can be utilized to cut phantom loads (power used when appliances are technically turned off but are still consuming power when plugged in) without having to walk around the house to do so. Large consumers may find it helpful, and cost-efficient, to monitor the entire facility, but it can be easier to simply watch the big guzzlers such as pumps, refrigerating equipment and air-conditioning systems.
A few of the suppliers of data loggers are Dent, Onset and Fluke.  Look around, speak with suppliers and find out what is the best product to suit your needs.
For the commercial customer, seven-day monitoring will allow you to identify excessive peak loading.
For example, if all of your big air-conditioning units start up the same time, you may wish to offset the start times so as to avoid the peak demand.  Remember, the utility company is looking out for these peaks in your demand and will charge you for them accordingly.
So anything you can do to reduce peak loading will reduce your bill.  Further, this type of monitoring can help you identify if large machinery is operating when their usage is simply not required.
For most operations, you would expect to have a dip in consumption at the end of the work day. If this is not happening you would be able to detect this with effective monitoring.
As with any attempt to make changes, such as dieting or exercising, a long-term strategy involving measuring your progress is essential for staying on track.
Find the best method to match your budget and behavior.

Challenge for this week:

Make it a point to ensure you know how to read your electricity bill.  Keep at least two years worth and see which months you seem to consume the most kWhs.

We would like to hear how this article has helped you. Send questions or comments to
Sonia Brown is Principal of Graphite Engineering Ltd and is a registered Professional Engineer.

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News Article
State Minister for Finance tables 250 Million BEC Resolution

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
net contingent...

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News Article

Guardian Business Reporter
A$20 million upgrade to the power generating infrastructure of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC)is the primary option being considered to meet the projected energy demands for Baha Mar, said BEC Chairman Michael Moss.
The alternative to that upgrade would be the construction of a new$45 million 30-megawatt plant, Moss added.
He said the corporation is hoping that an upgrade to its current infrastructure will be enough to handle the energy load from the mega resort.
Moss told Guardian Business that if the
efficiency of its current power plants could be improved, this would delay the need for a new plant.
"We may be able t ...

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News Article
Visiting U.S. official meets with key energy stakeholders

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.
The U.S. Embassy event provided an opportunity for stakeholders in the energy sector to discuss the advancement of alternative and renewable energy technologies, a key priority of President Obama's administration.  Chargé Dinkelman emphasized in his remarks that although The Bahamas, like many countries in the Caribbean, faces significant energy challenges, he is heartened by the efforts being made by the government and the business community in The Bahamas focused on exploring ways to increase the use of renewable energy options and pass on savings to consumers.  
The evening's guest of honor, Mr. Gary Ward, discussed the U.S. Department of Energy's efforts to increase public-private energy partnerships in the Caribbean including the soon to be announced Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)-led Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Program (CHENACT), which seeks to integrate tourism stakeholders into a broader energy dialogue in the region and promote the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.  The initiative will focus on the energy-related challenges and opportunities facing the industry in a region where energy accounts for 20-40 percent of hotel operating costs.
Photo: Mr. Alex Sokoloff, Economic and Political Officer, U.S. Embassy; Mr. Gilles Deal, Energy Officer, Ministry of Environment and Housing; Parliamentary Secretary, Mr. Renward Wells; Mr. Gary Ward, Director of American Affairs, DOE; U.S. Chargé d'Affaires John Dinkelman and The Hon. Leslie Miller, Member of Parliament and Chairman of BEC.

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News Article
A reflection on Robert Kennedy's Presentation and its Bearing on the Country

Dear Editor,
The room was packed at The College of The Bahamas on Monday, January 21 at 11 a.m. when Robert Kennedy Jr. addressed students, staff and faculty of the college as well as interested persons from the wider community.

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News Article
BEC to reconnect more than 7,000

The government intends to reconnect the electricity supplies of more than 7,000 households without power by June 1, Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Chairman Leslie Miller has revealed.
Miller said the corporation's records indicate that the majority of those customers have bills under $2,000.
He said after meetings with Minister of Works Philip Brave Davis and officials in BEC's Consumer Affairs Division a plan is being implemented to assist Bahamians get back on the grid.
"I have given them a mandate as was enunciated by our minister, Philip Brave Davis, that it is the government's wish and his personal wish that no Bahamian be without electricity," Miller said.
"We are going to go on a very intensive public relations program to get every single Bahamian, who is right now without electricity, to be on.
"We are hoping to do that during the month of May. Come June 1, if not all Bahamians, the majority of them will be on with a scheme they can afford."
All customers on the new plan must keep up with the future bills once connected, and could even receive a five to 10 percent reduction on the outstanding bill, Miller said.
He gave an example that a customer who owes $2,000 would be reconnected upon paying $400.
A customer with a bill of $3,000 or less will be expected to pay a "fair amount", while a customer with a bill of $4,000 must pay 25 percent.
Miller previously revealed that around half of BEC's customers who signed up for the former administration's electricity assistance program ahead of the 2012 general election did not need to utilize it to the extent they did.
He said those customers, many of whom were in the "upper income bracket", ultimately had a negative impact on BEC's bottom line.
The program, which was intended to provide relief and generate revenue from delinquent and returning customers, had the opposite effect because many households that could afford their bills, spread their payments out over the full length of the program, Miller said.
More than 5,000 households that were without electricity had their supply restored after registering for the up to three-year plan, which was launched on February 9 last year.
Reconnection fees were also waived to the tune of $80,000.
The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has suggested that the last BEC initiative was a Free National Movement (FNM) election ploy.
Miller recently said management was in the process of restructuring that program, shifting those who can afford to pay more, on a more "restricted program".
"Those less fortunate may still go on the three-year plan or that may be really reconfigured for a 24-month period," Miller said in March.
"Those who can afford to pay will probably go on a 12 to 18-month [payment] period to enable them to pay their bills at BEC."
Asked how the financially strapped corporation could afford to supply power to thousands of additional customers without them fully paying their bills, Miller said, "If you're off, you're not paying anything anyway.
"We are trying to incentivize them to come in and sit with our personnel to pay their bills in whatever manner they can that is reasonable."
Miller estimated that the corporation stands to lose $40 million this year.
BEC lost $18 million last year.
He insisted on Thursday that the new assistance program does not apply to commercial customers, whom he said owe BEC in excess of $50 million.
He revealed that one business owes the corporation $10 million.

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News Article
BAAA monitoring readiness of new national stadium

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.

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News Article
Abaco residents say power outages chasing tourists away

Guardian Senior Reporter

Bahamas Electricity Corporation general manager Kevin Basden released a statement yesterday evening explaining the persist power cuts in Abaco that led to a demonstration there earlier in the day.

The residents said the outages are impacting tourism on the island, business in general and are making life a virtual nightmare.

The power cuts have been happening since July 13.

"The present generation challenges are due to faults that developed on a few generators, coupled with a shortage of lubricating oil that resulted in two generators not being available during a 12-hour period, until additional oil was provided," Basden sa ...

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News Article
Pay cuts for BEC managers

The salaries of more than 100 middle mangers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) were cut on Monday for their participation in three days of sick-out between February and March. Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union (BEUMU) President Ervin Dean said yesterday that the union has already written a letter to BEC’s General Manager Kevin Basden requesting that the money be refunded immediately.
“BEC cut our pay for three days for which we called in sick for a day in February and two days in March,” he said.
“The problem we have with that is that BEC owes us about $3 million for our industrial agreement, which has [been] expired for more than th ...

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News Article
Implementation of BEC shift system delayed

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.

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News Article
BEWU presidential candidate wins appeal

Presidential candidate in the Bahamas Electrical Workers?Union (BEWU) January poll, Clyde Cartwright, has secured a major victory in his appeal to have the union’s election results stand.
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes disclosed yesterday that he had overturned the decision by Trade?Unions Registrar, Harcourt Brown, to declare the elections null and void.
The decision came days after the minister met with several candidates including Brown to discuss the ruling and an appeal filed against it by Cartwright.
Cartwright, an electrical fitter, and an 18-year veteran at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) now heads the labor organization, which represents hundreds of line-staff workers at the ...

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