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News Article

December 28, 2011
Hurricane Irene's destructive path

Hurricane Irene weaved a destructive path across The Bahamas in August, ripping off roofs, toppling trees and breaking utility poles.
As the storm barreled toward the country, just over 1,000 people sought refuge at hurricane shelters.
Packing winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, the powerful storm made landfall on August 23.
Four months later, rebuilding efforts continue.
The category three storm flattened houses and left several Family Islands without electricity for weeks, including Cat Island, which also partially lost its telecommunication services.
Water supplies throughout several islands were also affected.
The storm caused serious structural damage to some government offices, clinics, schools, police stations, and other infrastructure across the country.
Serious damage was also done to public docks in Cooper's Town and Moore's Island, Abaco, and in George Town, Exuma.
Private dwellings and businesses in some Family Islands, including Acklins, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Exuma and some communities in Abaco were also damaged.
In Orange Creek, Cat Island, 20 percent of buildings were rendered uninhabitable.
Speaking to reporters following the passage of Irene, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, "Most other island communities have reported varying degrees of damage to private homes, businesses, farms, fishing boats and churches.
"Roofs of homes and other buildings sustained damage in Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Exuma, Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
"Thankfully, Grand Bahama, which bore the brunt of the hurricanes impacting our country in 2004 [and] 2005, was spared the worst of the impact of Hurricane Irene.  Reports indicate that while the eastern end of the island was harder hit than other parts, much of the island received minimal impact from the storm's passing."
New Providence was also spared the brunt of the storm.  Fallen trees and damaged roofs were reported throughout the island.
However, the temporary site that housed the downtown straw market was destroyed, forcing vendors to set up shop on the nearby wharf.
Vendors have since been relocated to the new straw market.
Despite the damage, Ingraham acknowledged that "things could have been much worse".
While The Bahamas was spared serious devastation, the damage was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
Relief poured in to affected residents from around the country and from outside agencies.
Additionally, the government spent over $300,000 on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged, and thousands more in other parts of the country.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation also paid substantial sums of money for the repairs made to the electricity and water services.
Hurricane Irene caused nearly $37 million in government losses in The Bahamas, according to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
In September, Ingraham signed a grant agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for $200,000 that went toward hurricane relief efforts overseen by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
NEMA received more than $850,000 in cash donations-- not including grants, according to officials.

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News Article

December 28, 2011
Second drive-by leaves man dead

Days after a man was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting early Christmas morning, another man was murdered in a similar fashion shortly before 7 o'clock last night in Chippingham, police reported.
The shooting happened at the intersection of Dunmore Avenue and Infant View Road.
A group of men was reportedly gathered at the intersection when a dark colored vehicle drove up, police said.
One of the two men who were allegedly inside the vehicle opened fire on the group and the unidentified man was fatally shot, according to Superintendent of Police Stephen Dean.
The victim was reportedly shot multiple times to the body.
"We want to appeal to anyone in the public who may have been in this area and seen something happen to kindly contact the police or kindly supply the information, whether you have seen a vehicle travelling in this area, whether you've seen some suspicious [looking] persons or have any idea of who the shooters might be," Dean said.
He could not confirm the victim's age or whether he was a resident of the area.
"At this point we do not know the motive, we do not know what this may have stemmed from," he said.  "We are early in our investigations."
No other men in the group were injured during the incident, according to authorities.
Police, meanwhile, said they were still investigating the murder of Bruce Talmadge Sands Jr., 26, a technician of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), who was shot and killed around 4:30 a.m. Christmas morning on East Bay Street, east of the Harbour Bay Shopping Centre.
In another matter, La Sean Bain, 23, of West Dennis Court, Yellow Elder Gardens, was shot in that area, according to police. He was transported to hospital via EMS personnel where he succumb to his injuries.
Last night's murder pushed the country's murder count for 2011 to 125.
The Bahamas recorded four murder records in five years.
 

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News Article

June 09, 2011
Fire destroys AID

Automotive Industrial Distributors (AID) on Wulff Road was destroyed by a fire, which reportedly started in the warehouse section of the building late Thursday afternoon.
The blaze forced a shutdown of the immediate area and at one point came dangerously close to the nearby Shell gas station.
Police closed Wulff Road from the Marathon Road roundabout to Mackey Street and directed all traffic away from the area.
Officials said all employees were safely evacuated after the fire started shortly after 4 p.m.
One of the chief concerns for authorities as well as for residents of the area was that the fire was being fueled by flammable material in AID, a popular home and auto parts establishment that has been in the community for decades.
Rohan Deal, an employee at AID, said he crawled out of a bathroom in the building after the fire started.
He said he heard things explode and pop around him as he ran for his life.
"I basically saw a lot of black smoke, so I went by memory and hit the floor, crawled on all fours, because that's where the oxygen spots are, and I just crawled all the way from the bathroom section in (the parts (section), to the warehouse section, went through the door and just tried to run for it," Deal said.
"I was just trying to get the hell out, trying to survive. I put my shirt over my face, trying to breathe and trying not to inhale so much smoke."
When The Nassau Guardian arrived on the scene AID was fully engulfed in flames.
Three fire trucks and a Bahamas Electricity Corporation bucket truck were used to help fight the blaze.
A backhoe was also used to tear the side of the building open near where the fire began so firefighters could reach farther into the store with their hoses. When the walls came down smoke and fire billowed out.
The men had to cap a line that led to Shell's diesel storage tank with a wet rag to prevent a gas explosion.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Craig Stubbs said the wind helped to prevent the fire spreading to the diesel line.
He added that the smoke in the area was so thick that everyone in the nearby Wulff Road Police Station had to be evacuated, including the prisoners.
Stubbs said two men were arrested at the scene of the fire. He said one man was brandishing a knife.
All of AID's employees were accounted for when firefighters arrived on the scene, according to Stubbs.
By early evening, the front walls of the building fell down. Not long after, firefighters brought the fire under control.
There was no immediate estimate of the damage and it was unclear what started the blaze.
This is the latest of several major fires that occurred in recent months.
The largest fire was the one that ripped through a portion of Bay Street on February 14.

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News Article

June 14, 2013
Shantytown crackdown

The government intends to crack down on shantytowns in The Bahamas, Minister of Housing and Environment Kenred Dorsett announced in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Dorsett said there will be consequences for people who live in such areas if they are not operating within the law.
"A copy of all of the notices that we have served and will serve to the owners and occupiers of shantytowns by the Department of Environmental Health Services will be copied to the Ministry of Works and Urban Development, the Ministry of National Security and the departments of Immigration and Social Services," Dorsett said.
"The Ministry of Works will serve notices it may deem appropriate and shantytown occupiers and owners will be required to provide an occupancy certificate, approved building plan permit from the Ministry of Works, approved Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) connection and approved Water and Sewerage connection.
"If these cannot be produced, the Ministry of Works will also be able to take the necessary action."
The announcement followed a report on shantytowns revealed last month by The Nassau Guardian.
The report titled, "Haitian shanty village locations in New Providence" indicated there are at least 15 Haitian shanty villages on the island.
Researchers found that there is a "marked indifference to the extremely unhealthy conditions by those that occupy the shanties".
"This administration is going to take a proactive approach to addressing this issue because from a public health standpoint, the bottom line is we cannot continue business as usual," Dorsett said. "One outbreak of cholera and our number one industry [would be] gone. So this is not something that we can play with."
Dorsett noted that shanty towns traditionally operate outside the requirements for proper sanitation, without regard to the building code and in violation of safety requirements for electricity.
He said the Department of Environmental Heath established a Special Projects Unit (SPU) to address the issues associated with shanty towns.
"We are shifting more human resources to this unit," Dorsett said. "As we get more empirical data we are astounded by the number of shanty towns that are popping up all over this archipelago."
Dorsett added that many of the shanty towns are on private land.
"What is interesting to me is that the owners of those private parcels of land have sought me out. Two families in particular have told me that they approached administrations with a view to assisting them. Some indicated that they own the land...but they have not been able to get the people off their land."
He said the government will address all of the issues relating to shanty towns.
In addition to reviewing the latest shanty town report, Dorsett said the government is updating previous reports on shanty towns across The Bahamas.
He added that the Bahamian people can expect to get updates from him on the "vexatious problem" in the coming weeks.

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News Article

December 24, 2014
Miller blasts BEC bonuses

Employees of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) were paid in excess of $1 million in Christmas bonuses, BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday.
Miller said the bonuses were a little more than last year's as the workers' salaries have increased.
"I don't see how a company with a conscience for the Bahamian people that own BEC could make a decision to provide bonuses to a company that is losing money," he said when contacted for comment.
"BEC is going to lose about $22 million this year. I don't see how that's possible. I said that when we are making money we'd be happy to reconsider bonuses, but not until the company is self-sufficient and self-sustaining.
"I don't think the Bahamian people should carry the load of giving bonuses for a company that is in such terrible state and a company where certain members could take home $14,000 a month in overtime.
"It's criminal."
The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) signed an industrial agreement with the government on December 10.
There will be no salary increases over the five-year contract, which is retroactive to May 2013 and expires on April 30, 2018.
But BEC's unionized employees received a lump sum payment.
Since his appointment to BEC in 2012, Miller has been critical of the amount of overtime and bonuses paid.
Last year, Miller sent a letter to BEC General Manager Kevin Basden indicating that a decision was made to defer the bonuses until the corporation was in a position to pay.
However, employees were eventually paid.
Miller also said that over 3,000 Bahamians are still without power.
Last year, the corporation introduced a program to reconnect customers whose electricity supplies were off.
No such program was offered this year.
"We have exhausted just about every program we've tried," Miller said yesterday.
"You have to realize, all the people that we went with, with the new initiative have already been on every program BEC had before. We just keep trying one thing or another just to keep them on.
"After a while you reach a point of diminishing returns and there is nothing else you can do for them. The people cannot afford the high cost of electricity."
Miller added that when value-added tax (VAT) is introduced in January many customers may not be able to afford the increased cost of electricity.
"VAT, as far as BEC is concerned, is a useless effort," he said. "If they are not able to pay their regular bill, and you tack on VAT, what's the problem there?"

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News Article

May 17, 2011
BEC generator faults triggered outages

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) General Manager Kevin Basden said yesterday that power outages that occurred across New Providence over the last few days were the result of generator faults.
Basden explained that outages on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday were caused by “generators tripping offline” and were exacerbated by the fact that one of BEC’s largest generators had been taken offline for servicing.
“These outages, for the most part, are directly related to challenges we have experienced with our generation network in New Providence,” Basden said at a press conference at the corporation’s headquarters.
“There were unforesee ...

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News Article

June 21, 2013
BEC has been reviewed to see where efficiencies could be achieved

NASSAU, The Bahamas --
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development said
the Board and Management of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation have
been reviewing every single aspect of the Corporation to see where
efficiencies could be achieved and where costs could be lowered.

Presenting
his Contribution to the 2013/2014 Budget Debate in the House of
Assembly, Monday, June 17, 2013, the Deputy Prime Minister said the
Board and Management have to do this because the cost of electricity has
been too high for too long.

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News Article

December 16, 2014
News 'soon' on company choice as Cabinet considering BEC reform

THE issue of the planned reform of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation is "before Cabinet now" with an announcement on which private company will manage the utility provider expected shortly, Deputy Prime Minister Philip "Brave" Davis said yesterday.

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News Article

January 05, 2015
Ingraham wants police probe

Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said the matter involving the reported bribing of a Bahamian official by a French company to win Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) contracts during his administration should be turned over to the police.
"The matter should be a matter for the police," Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian.
"That is what we did when bribes were paid to BEC board members before we came to office."
Ingraham's comments on the matter are his first public statements since the US Justice Department reported on December 22 that the French power company Alstom had agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects.
Federal prosecutors said Alstom SA falsified its records and paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes for help in obtaining more than $4 billion in projects in countries including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and The Bahamas.
US court papers do not name who the official is who was paid over $300,000 to help Alstom secure BEC contracts.
The official is identified only as a BEC board member.
Former BEC Board Chairman J. Barrie Farrington recently called on the government to relentlessly pursue the matter.
Asked whether he would support a government initiated probe, Ingraham only repeated that he would support the police investigating the matter.
It has been previously reported that the then board of BEC recommended that Hanjung of Korea be awarded the contract for the purchase of a BEC generator.
When the matter went before the Ingraham Cabinet, the recommendation was
rejected and the Cabinet instead chose Alstom.
Speaking to The Nassau Guardian on the matter, attorney Brian Moree, who was a member of the board, said, "I think the important point from the board is to remember that the board fully, I think unanimously, voted in favor of awarding the contract to the South Korean company.
"And then that decision of the board was not implemented and another decision was made. So I think from the point of view of the board, it was a little surprising at the time, but that is my recollection of what occurred."
Moree said board members were very surprised by the decision.
He confirmed that several of them considered resigning as a result.
Only Vincent D'Aguilar, now deceased, resigned. D'Aguilar was an electrical engineer by profession and formally worked for BEC.
It remains unclear why the Cabinet rejected the board's recommendation.
Former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson, who was minister responsible for utilities at the time, said the Inter-American Development Bank approved the Alstom bid.
He said it would be appropriate for the current or former prime minister to say why the Ingraham cabinet rejected the Korean company's bid.
Moree said he also supports the matter being fully investigated.
"I think that any allegation of corruption or bribery would adversely affect The Bahamas, and as Bahamians we must always be concerned about that," he said.
"I think we have to be committed to achieving higher levels of good governance in our country and transparency in all national matters, and so I think like all other Bahamians that we (former members of the board) are concerned about it."
Asked what message a probe would send, Moree said, "I think that's the decision that the authorities must make. All I can say is along the same lines as other people have said. It's [something] now that has to be looked into and from the point of view of The Bahamas, we have to try to maintain our integrity and I assume that the authorities would take whatever action they deem to be appropriate."
Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson has requested that US authorities turn over information on the bribery matter to Bahamian officials.

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News Article

June 15, 2013
Former minister says shantytown policy old

Former Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Housing Brensil Rolle said yesterday the Christie administration's new policy on shantytowns is a recycled version of the one that the Ingraham administration started before it was voted out of office.
Rolle, who headed the former government's initiative to clean up shantytowns in 2010, said the previous government caused thousands of squatters to be moved from government owned land.
Housing Minister Kenred Dorsett announced on Thursday that the government intends to crack down on shantytowns in The Bahamas. He said there will be consequences for people who live in such areas if they are not operating within the law.
Going forward, he said, shantytown occupiers will be required to provide an occupancy certificate, approved building plan permit from the Ministry of Works, approved Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) connection and approved Water and Sewerage connection.
He said if these cannot be produced, the Ministry of Works will take the necessary action.
But Rolle said this is nothing new.
"This is what we did," he said.
"In approaching the areas that were owned by the government we sent in a team of officials from the various agencies and assessed the physical environments.
"Once we did that, they came back with an indication of what was on the ground. We then set in motion a process to have persons removed from the shantytowns. We posted notices, and we had informational meetings with public dwellers.
"We then identified how much time they had to vacate the government's property."
He said the team included officials from the Department of Social Services, the Department of Immigration, the police force, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Housing.
Rolle said once the land was vacated, the government turned it over to the Ministry of Housing to be used for the development of low cost housing subdivisions.
"We did that in five specific areas where there were shantytowns," he said. "So what Minister Dorsett offered [on Thursday] was simply a plan that was already in place. But he's now announcing it as if it's their government's plan."
He said clean up efforts were carried out at Su Rock, Margaret Yard, Government Yard, Mackey Yard and another unnamed shantytown on Fire Trail Road.
While he could not recall the total number of squatters affected, Rolle said in the case of Mackey Yard, over 1,500 people were forced to move. He added that between 900 and 1,200 squatters on Fire Trail also vacated that land.
"So instead of the minister making these broad statements, he just needs to continue the plan and clean up the shantytowns," Rolle said.
Former Minister of State for Immigration Branville McCartney said he doubts the Christie administration has the fortitude required to clean up the shantytowns.
"No one has the political will to deal with it," said McCartney, leader of the Democratic National Alliance.
"It's sounds good, but I'm curious about whether they will act on it.
He said he is skeptical about Rolle's "claims" about the clean up efforts that the former government carried out.

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News Article

January 27, 2012
Latest murder victim identified

The man who was shot and killed on Adelaide Road on Wednesday afternoon was identified as Delroy Daxon, 27, of Cowpen Road, police said.
Daxon was an employee of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's Clifton Pier Plant, The Nassau Guardian understands.
He was murdered in front of Oasis Restaurant and Lounge.
Police said he received multiple gunshot wounds about the body, including the head.
A group of people believed to be relatives of Daxon arrived on the scene late Wednesday in apparent shock.
Yesterday evening, police issued a wanted bulletin for Edward Taylor who is also know as "Sin", 41, of Bacardi Road, and formerly of Mastic Point, Andros.
Taylor is described as having a dark brown complexion, being of medium build and standing 5'9" tall.
Police want to question Taylor in reference to Daxon's murder.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Taylor is asked to contact the Central Detective Unit (CDU) at 502-9991, 502-9910 or Crime Stoppers at 328-TIPS.

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News Article

November 18, 2010
The Bs - BEC and BTC

Dear Editor,
I read in the papers this morning (Monday) that the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is to slash their losses from $30 million to between $5 and 10 million this year and Cable and Wireless wants to downsize the personnel at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) by a third before buying the company. Is this all a bad dream or a joke?
BEC has among the highest electricity rates in the world and they still make a loss.
This means we continue to pay more for our electricity. On top of that the government does not seem to really encourage alternative means of energy.
Why not if they cannot supply the goods at a reasonable rate? Also I do not see heads rolling at BEC. Wh ...

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News Article

December 28, 2011
Road project frustration major story in 2011

It was a bumpy ride in 2011, fraught with numerous diversions and delays, all as a result of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP).
The project dominated headlines in 2011.
In September, members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Assembly started a probe into how public funds were being spent on the project.
The Nassau Guardian later learned that the PAC found the project would eventually cost the government $154 million, $40 million more than budgeted
The PAC's report also revealed that funds for the project would be depleted by April 2012 and that it was not expected to be completed before September 2012.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said in December that the project was over-budget because of high oil prices, additional works for the Water and Sewerage Corporation and the prolongation of the contract works.
He said the government would seek a $50 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to complete the project.
"A detailed breakdown of all of the works and costs will be provided to Parliament on January 23," he told reporters.
"We are going to be making an application to the IDB for a loan of $50 million to conclude the project.
"I might tell you that had the project been concluded when we first started it before we got kicked out of office, the Bahamian people would have paid less than $60 million for the project as opposed to the $119 million we signed the contract for, because the price of oil had gone up by $50 million by the time we got back into office to do it."
Earlier in the year, members of the Coconut Grove Business League (CGBL) had their case against the government -- which they won in 2010 -- overturned in the Court of Appeal.
Business people, especially those on Prince Charles Drive and Market Street, also claimed their businesses were suffering as a result of the project.
In August, Prince Charles Drive business owner Fred Rahming became so upset over the closure of the road directly in front of his business that he attempted to stop workers from closing the road.
Others like Dionisio D'Aguilar, president of the Superwash laundromat chain and chairman of AML Foods Limited, called for the government to admit that the Argentinian contractor José Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC) was responsible for the road works mess.
During this time, the project expanded with multiple corridors being worked on, including Market Street, the East West Highway, the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre Highway, Prince Charles Drive, Wulff Road and Baillou Hill Road south to name a few.
Ministry of Public Works officials told reporters in September that no more roads would be dug up.
That same month, however, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) said that it would eventually have to dig up the recently paved roads to do maintenance and expansion work.
Ingraham said provisions were not made for BEC to be able to maintain or expand its network without digging up the streets.
Ministry of Public Works officials claimed they requested companies and corporations during the planning phases to voice any special needs or concerns and noted that workers have been installing based on the information.
Some workers on the project told reporters in November that they were on go-slow because they were 'overworked and underpaid'.
However, after only 10 of them showed up at a planned 'mass demonstration' the workers' campaign lost momentum.
Attorney Wayne Monroe, a member of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), said he planned to represent approximately 50 of the workers in court to take action against JCCC.
Director of Works John Canton admitted the ministry was not happy with what JCCC was paying workers.
Officials opened the roads for the Christmas holiday period, but indicated that some may have to be closed again eventually so work can be completed.

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News Article

December 28, 2011
Hurricane Irene's destructive path

Hurricane Irene weaved a destructive path across The Bahamas in August, ripping off roofs, toppling trees and breaking utility poles.
As the storm barreled toward the country, just over 1,000 people sought refuge at hurricane shelters.
Packing winds in excess of 100 miles per hour, the powerful storm made landfall on August 23.
Four months later, rebuilding efforts continue.
The category three storm flattened houses and left several Family Islands without electricity for weeks, including Cat Island, which also partially lost its telecommunication services.
Water supplies throughout several islands were also affected.
The storm caused serious structural damage to some government offices, clinics, schools, police stations, and other infrastructure across the country.
Serious damage was also done to public docks in Cooper's Town and Moore's Island, Abaco, and in George Town, Exuma.
Private dwellings and businesses in some Family Islands, including Acklins, Crooked Island, Cat Island, Mayaguana, Exuma and some communities in Abaco were also damaged.
In Orange Creek, Cat Island, 20 percent of buildings were rendered uninhabitable.
Speaking to reporters following the passage of Irene, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham said, "Most other island communities have reported varying degrees of damage to private homes, businesses, farms, fishing boats and churches.
"Roofs of homes and other buildings sustained damage in Mayaguana, Rum Cay, San Salvador, Long Island, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells and Harbour Island, Exuma, Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
"Thankfully, Grand Bahama, which bore the brunt of the hurricanes impacting our country in 2004 [and] 2005, was spared the worst of the impact of Hurricane Irene.  Reports indicate that while the eastern end of the island was harder hit than other parts, much of the island received minimal impact from the storm's passing."
New Providence was also spared the brunt of the storm.  Fallen trees and damaged roofs were reported throughout the island.
However, the temporary site that housed the downtown straw market was destroyed, forcing vendors to set up shop on the nearby wharf.
Vendors have since been relocated to the new straw market.
Despite the damage, Ingraham acknowledged that "things could have been much worse".
While The Bahamas was spared serious devastation, the damage was estimated to be in the millions of dollars.
Relief poured in to affected residents from around the country and from outside agencies.
Additionally, the government spent over $300,000 on repair-related expenses for homes in the MICAL constituency that were damaged, and thousands more in other parts of the country.
The Bahamas Electricity Corporation and the Water and Sewerage Corporation also paid substantial sums of money for the repairs made to the electricity and water services.
Hurricane Irene caused nearly $37 million in government losses in The Bahamas, according to the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF).
In September, Ingraham signed a grant agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for $200,000 that went toward hurricane relief efforts overseen by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
NEMA received more than $850,000 in cash donations-- not including grants, according to officials.

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News Article

June 11, 2011
Police kill suspect

Police shot and killed a 19-year-old man Thursday night as he reportedly attempted to hit officers with a stolen vehicle. The officers on routine patrol in the area of Claridge Road spotted the Nissan Sentra around 11:30 p.m. and attempted to stop the driver and his female passenger, police said.
However, the driver sped off and officers chased the vehicle, according to police.
Police said the chase took them to the area near to the Bahamas Electricity Corporation on Blue Hill Road where the driver of the Sentra and his passenger were cornered by police.
The man then again attempted to escape through the police blockade, according to police.
"The driver in an attempt to evade arrest accelerated his vehicle and attempted to roll over the officers when he was fatally shot," police said.
The man was identified as a resident of Pinewood Gardens. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel were summoned but he was already dead.
Police said the female passenger was shot in the arm and was taken to hospital, treated and discharged. She was "assisting" police with their investigations.
Police shot and killed a man in Peardale three weeks ago.
The man was said to have robbed the Peardale Supermarket along with another man, only moments before officers caught up with them.
Those officers were also on routine patrol in Peardale when they saw two men running from the area of the supermarket and chased them, according to police reports.
The man who was shot died on the scene, while the other suspect, who was found hiding under a house a short distance from the Peardale Supermarket, was taken into custody.
A weapon was also recovered from the scene along with some items on the suspects that might have been connected to the robbery, according to police.
Police are also investigating a shooting Thursday night that left two men in hospital in serious condition.
Police said that around 8:30 p.m. they received reports of gunshots in the area of East Street and Sapodilla Boulevard.
When they arrived they discovered two males with gunshot injuries.
Police reported that the victims were at East Street south when they were approached by a silver Nissan Altima occupied by two males armed with handguns who demanded cash.
The armed men then fired gunshots which resulted in one of the men, believed to be 43 years old, being shot to the chest and the other to the stomach, police reported.
The men were taken to hospital by EMS personnel where they were reportedly listed in serious condition.
 

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News Article

January 10, 2012
Butler: BEC is not sustainable

Implementing a comprehensive renewable energy plan in The Bahamas is a win-win situation for all, particularly for utility companies like the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), according to Chairman of the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum Jerry Butler.
Butler, who will be speaking at the 21st Annual Bahamas Business Outlook this week, told Guardian Business that BEC's financial model is not sustainable as the company is impacted by rising world oil prices.  Butler said this escalation in price is then passed on to the consumer via electricity surcharges.
He shared what would happen if BEC had a long-term renewable energy plan in place.
"BEC is a utility that has approximately 430 megawatts of installed power and the majority is generated by fossil fuels," Butler explained.
"If we look at the draft national economic policy, by 2030, 30 percent of our energy would have been derived from the renewable sector, primarily solar and wind.  This would mean that BEC would now have a determined sustainable sector that would not have to be subject to the U.S. dollar and world oil prices.  For a utility company, renewable energy is a win-win situation.  It's just a question of how it is implemented and regulated."
Butler pointed that the average homeowner suffers the most as a result of rising world oil prices.  However, he shared with Guardian Business that this doesn't have to be the case.
"If you look a the average residential home owner, they may have been paying in the neighborhood of $0.28 per kilowatt hour for the past two years.  This is in comparison to countries like Jamaica where it is $0.42, and Miami where it is $0.18 per kilowatt hour.  You have a scenario where your average solar and wind installation could produce electricity somewhere in the neighborhood of $0.19 per kilowatt hour," he said.
"If homeowners are able to produce their own electricity, you end up with homeowners that are re-energized.  This will essentially help BEC to cut its costs.  This extends to even the commercial sector such as major hotels and the airport.  This is not a pipe dream.  We need a vision that can be implemented by Bahamians who can sustain it. "
He further revealed it is not too late for The Bahamas to cash in on the opportunities that renewable energy has to offer, though he admitted that other Caribbean countries are already taking the lead in this area.
"Our window of opportunity will last as long as oil prices continue to rise, and as long as competition doesn't knock us completely out of the market.  Countries like Barbados and Trinidad already have renewable energy plans.  The Bahamas needs to catch up before it's too late," Butler noted.

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News Article

December 18, 2014
Water and Sewerage Corp. workers hold demonstration

Dozens of Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) employees demonstrated yesterday against what the Bahamas Utilities Service and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) said was several outstanding industrial concerns.
When The Nassau Guardian arrived at the corporation's Thompson Boulevard location shortly after noon, scores of employees were gathered outside.
Some held up placards and chanted "no victimization".
Key among the union's concerns is an alleged attempt to downsize WSC, the termination of an employee in Inagua and issues related to making two employees based in New Providence permanent.
The BUSAWU also expressed concerns about the discontinuation of its members' sick benefits.
Employees were once able to collect their full salaries and National Insurance sick pay benefits.
In March, the benefit, which the government referred to as "double dipping", was discontinued at several public sector corporations.
When contacted for comment, WSC General Manager Glen Laville declined to comment about the union's threat.
"I am not going to comment on union matters in the media," he told The Nassau Guardian.
"There is a procedure to follow."
Pressed on the issues raised by the union, Laville said the Department of Labour and the Industrial Tribunal are available to resolve any legitimate issue.
Yesterday, BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods demanded that the government intervene before employees "take action customers will feel".
Up to press time, there was no reported disruption in water supply due to the protest.
"When a man has been home from work from August 5 without a payroll, someone has to own up to that," Woods said.
"The corporation is leaving the man no alternative, and we talk about crime.
"You leave someone without pay form August 5. The union has to do what we are doing."
Woods said the union's 300 members are prepared to ramp up action if there is not a satisfactory outcome.
"Everyone knows what happens when industrial matters are not solved," Woods said.
"Everyone knows what will happen. Just like BEC's (Bahamas Electricity Corporation) union said there would be no light.
"It may be a whole heap of sewage. If we withdraw our enthusiasm the sewer would not go the way it normally goes.
"It may come up rather than go down."
When asked about a contingency plan, Laville said the corporation is prepared.
"I would be surprised if it gets to that point," he noted.

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News Article

June 30, 2014
Silent treatment

There is a kind of madness taking grip in this country on certain matters relative to governance, the functioning of our institutions and the things we as Bahamians are asked to accept.
Nowhere has this been more on display in recent weeks than in the developments that flowed after The Nassau Guardian disclosed that Executive Chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Leslie Miller and his family-owned business owed the corporation $250,000.
Miller, of course, is not the only person who owes the corporation. There are also many businesses that owe substantial sums, we are told.
We revisit this matter this week because it is no doubt Miller's hope and that of the government that it will go away.
But it remains a matter deserving of attention.
Prime Minister Perry Christie and Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis, who has ministerial responsibility for BEC, continue to remain silent after confirmation from BEC that its policy was violated when cashiers accepted a cash payment of more than $10,000 on the bill.
BEC's policy is that no cash payments are to be accepted over that amount.
Sources within the corporation confirmed that $100,000 was paid in cash.
This has not been denied by Miller or any government official.
Asked to confirm whether the payment was made in cash, the deputy prime minister told us, "I don't know how it was paid. I just know $100,000 was paid."
When we raised this matter again with Miller last week Sunday, he was annoyed that we were still pushing the point.
In a stunning statement to The Tribune, Miller said, "money is money".
The newspaper said Miller informed that he was also unaware of BEC's policy not to accept more than $10,000 cash because many "businesses have done it before".
"Money is money," he reportedly told The Tribune. "I didn't know what the policy was. If they came to my business and gave me money, paid me in cash, I would thank them again and again.
"Institutions in this country have done this before. These are petty things (that are) causing the Bahamian people to be sidetracked from what is really happening at the corporation and all the good that is being done.
"The people that are attacking me and my family are nameless, but I have a name and they are coming for me. I do not need them to like me, my record speaks for itself."
What Miller does not understand is questions relating to that $100,000 are legitimate questions.
This does not represent an attack on him or his family.
The implications of this matter being swept under the rug may be great.
It is not accepted business practice to deal in large sums of money, hence the BEC policy.
The chairman's statement that he did not know what the policy is, is startling.
The prime minister and the deputy prime minister should not accept this as an explanation.
And we the people should not accept the deputy prime minister's statement that he does not know how the money was paid.
It is the chairman's obligation to know the corporation's policies, and it is the DPM's obligation to look into the matter of this payment.
If we say we are serious about protecting the reputation of our jurisdiction, then we must at all times adhere to the highest international standards as they relate to financial transactions.
The world is watching. What signal is the government sending to the international community?
To be clear, we make no suggestions on the source of the $100,000 paid to BEC.
But we do question our disregard for standards relating to the handling of large sums of money.
This is not a petty matter.
We expected Leslie Miller to react in the manner in which he acted.
Miller is a well-liked politician who has endeared himself to the common man.
But he has attracted controversy during his years in public life and has created one embarrassing situation after the next for Christie.
At the start of the first Christie administration, Miller, who was then a minister, fueled a firestorm over firings at the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC).
He was later caught up in multiple other controversies.
We are reminded of a statement an American diplomat attributed to Prime Minister Christie in 2005.
"Some ministers, were brought into the Cabinet because of their qualifications; others, like Minister Miller, were included in an effort, at times unsuccessful, to keep an eye on what they're doing," Christie allegedly said.
We wonder now whether Christie, by his silence, is seeking to avoid a fall-out with Miller over that $100,000 cash payment, and the fact that the chairman owed the corporation so much money while demanding other businesses stay current.
We raise this issue again this week to say again that our general lack of adherence to standards and the prime minister and deputy prime minister's silence are appalling.

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News Article

January 20, 2015
BEC union: If Miller sues, truth will be revealed

BAHAMAS Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said yesterday he "welcomed a lawsuit" from Bahamas Electricity Corporation Chairman Leslie Miller if it means "the truth will finally be revealed".

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News Article

November 01, 2010
The hidden facts about BEC that contributed to its current broke status

Nassau, Bahamas - The following is a press statement by Bradley Roberts, National Chairman, the Progressive Liberal Party:

The
Progressive Liberal Party is once again demanding that Hubert Ingraham,
Minister Earl Deveaux and Jr. Minister Phenton Neymour come clean on
BEC.

 

When
the FNM came to power in May 2007, they found a thriving, expanding
Bahamas Electricity Corporation, which they have allowed through
arrogance and mismanagement to be brought to its very knees.

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News Article

June 17, 2011
New president for BEC line staff union

After years as an executive of the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), Stephano Greene will now lead the organization.
Greene -- who served as the union's secretary general -- learned he became the president-elect when the unofficial results of Wednesday's polls were released yesterday.
This week's poll followed an election earlier this year that ended in controversy.
Greene ran for president in that election as well, but lost by fewer than 20 votes.
In February, the Department of Labour nullified elections held in January after it was discovered that there were people who ran for positions who were not eligible to participate in elections.
Greene's position will become official once the results are certified and he is sworn in next week.
He said his top priority is preparing the Bahamas Electricity Corporation's line staff workers for the possibility of privatization.
He said that he would learn from the experience of executives of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company's unions leading up to that company's privatization earlier this year.
"I have the advantage of (learning) from them firsthand what we need to do differently from them as it relates to preparing our members for privatization," Greene said.
He added that he would also learn from his contacts in Barbados and in Grand Bahama where private companies provide power.
"We can also sit with them to figure out what we can do differently than they might have done," he said.
Greene also said salary issues need to be addressed in the near future.
"We haven't had a salary administration study done for more than 10 years. The last one was done in 1996," he said.

"We need to make sure and get all of those things done so that we can make sure our members are properly appreciated and that they're properly trained and that we can raise the morale of the membership in the corporation to make the corporation better."

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News Article

December 30, 2011
Roberts: FNM chairman's remarks proof FNM is out of touch

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said in a statement yesterday that remarks made by Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Carl Bethel that "voter dissatisfaction will fade as the election nears" was insulting and proof that the FNM is out of touch with the pulse of the Bahamian people.
"It is interesting to note that Mr. Bethel's basis for his remarks is the disastrous New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) that has been unacceptably delayed and significantly over budget. Further, this poorly executed project caused the closure of many businesses, numerous job losses and immeasurable frustration and inconvenience to the motoring public," said Roberts, who was minister of works in the Christie administration.
On Wednesday, Bethel told The Nassau Guardian, "I'm getting a sense of hope from voters. Whatever the frustrations of the past year have been, people are now seeing the benefits of the government investing in the future."
He acknowledged that many voters are upset with the government, particularly over the delays and traffic congestion caused by the New Providence Road Improvement Project.
"Yes, okay we are frustrated about the road works, but now with the roads in the condition where they have been open, people are getting a real sense of the possible benefit of the disruption," Bethel said.
But Roberts said in his statement: "This botched road works project however is just one of the many issues that have negatively impacted the lives of Bahamians. Topping the list is the unprecedented level of crime, the fear of crime and the misery index that is off the charts due to the shamefully high unemployment rate."
Roberts said, "With regard to unemployment, more than 40,000 Bahamians are now without work and without any prospects in the foreseeable future due to the FNM's mismanagement and failed policies -- especially their refusal to put Bahamians first.
"While governments around the world lowered taxes to save businesses and jobs, this FNM government imposed huge tax increases on the backs of working Bahamians that made life unbearable for many Bahamian families.
"This FNM government has abandoned Grand Bahama, their so-called 'FNM country' which continues to die daily and is a ghost of its former self. Their elected representatives are reportedly refusing to face their constituents and are literally fleeing."
Roberts added that thousands of Bahamians are without electricity supply, and he pointed to high electricity costs.
"This is the situation after tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars were spent on new generation plants, plant maintenance and after repeated assurances were given by government ministers and the chairman of BEC (the Bahamas Electricity Corporation) that this problem would be resolved.
"These blackouts have needlessly disrupted businesses, adversely impacted the lives of many and still the government is not forthcoming with a sensible explanation for why this national vexation continues.
"So everything [Prime Minister] Hubert Ingraham has touched has turned to powder and Bahamians are significantly worse off today than they were five years ago."
Roberts said Bethel should "take his head out of the sand" and realize that these are but some of the salient and burning issues facing Bahamians today - not only the road works - that are the causes of voter dissatisfaction with the FNM and the reason the Bahamian people will vote the FNM government out of office at the earliest opportunity."

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News Article

November 14, 2010
BEC to slash 2010 losses to 5-10m

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

THE Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) is expecting to slash its per annum loss from $30 million in 2009 to between $5-$10 million for the recently completed financial year to end-September 2010, its chairman has told Tribune Business, before returning to profitability in 2011.

Michael Moss told this newspaper that while the 100 per cent state-owned Corporation was "not out of the woods yet", it was expected to turn a small profit in its 2011 financial year, aided by the $24 million revenue increase generated by a combination of the tariff rate rise and the Government paying for street lighting.

The third key component of BEC's turnar ...

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News Article

November 25, 2014
BEC should not give extravagant contract to its workers

We just went through the worst summer in recent memory in New Providence when it comes to power outages. Many homeowners and businesses lost equipment due to the situation. Many were enraged because family life and commerce were constantly being disrupted. The problem was equipment failure, for various reasons.
This poor service also costs a lot. Customers of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) pay for usage and a fuel surcharge. The surcharge is usually three times the usage cost.
Despite the high rates for electricity, BEC is a failed corporation. It has $450 million in legacy debt. The government has to stand behind its loans. BEC's Executive Chairman Leslie Miller has said the corporation stands to lose $30 million this year.
In this context, the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), the representative of BEC's line staff, is in a battle with the corporation and the government over a new contract.
The full scope of the proposed contract is unknown, but Miller recently told The Nassau Guardian that he called a special board meeting to examine it and expressed several concerns. Those concerns included union demands regarding lump-sum payments and rostering, according to Miller.
BEWU President Paul Maynard has said there could be industrial action today over the impasse between the union and BEC. The electricity started going off yesterday.
At times, Miller has been intemperate with his words regarding BEC's workers. He was correct, however, when he said BEC cannot give employees what it does not have when it comes to these negotiations. He has asked the union to be "a little more reasonable, consider the plight of all Bahamians, and stop being so selfish".
The government and BEC should not offer the workers an extravagant deal. In fact, with BEC being a failed state entity that is losing money there is a need for the new deal to cut back on what was given before. No worker should expect more money and benefits when the entity paying the salaries is bankrupt.
The government has pledged to restructure BEC and allow increased private participation in the energy sector. The final decision on sector reform, however, has not been announced. Change is urgently needed, as BEC and its high rates and poor service are inhibiting economic growth.
The union should accept that the corporation is in a poor financial state. It should be reasonable and not seek more than BEC can bear - and it can bear no more when it comes to salaries. The government and BEC should also hold the line and work toward reducing costs at the corporation in order to bring some relief to BEC's financial situation.

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News Article

January 07, 2015
U.S., UK, Euro officials charged over Alstom bribe allegations

Executives and government personnel in the U.S., the UK and Poland have been charged in connection with the plea bargain signed by French power and transportation firm Alstom SA. Meanwhile, Bahamians are waiting to see if information that may be turned over by U.S. authorities will lead to any charges in this jurisdiction.
Some Bahamians have expressed outright disbelief that any charges will be brought as a result of any investigation into allegations that Alstom bribed a Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) board member between 1999 and 2003 to swing a lucrative power contract the company's way.
Despite that skepticism public and private sector personnel are already before the courts in the U.S., the UK and Poland in connection with the case, which alleges that bribes were paid in a number of countries. On December 18, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Alstom - through its U.S.-traded and U.S.-registered subsidiaries - under the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), with bribing government executives around the world to secure power and transportation contracts for Alstom subsidiaries.
The company pled guilty to the charges and agreed to pay a whopping fine of more than $770 million. The justice department said Alstom paid more than $75 million to secure $4 billion in projects around the world.
At least four top Alstom executives have been charged separately in the United States in connection with the plea deal worked out by the company in one of the largest corporate bribery cases in recent history.
Lawrence Hoskins, an Alstom Area senior vice president for the Asia region in Alstom's International Network, Frederic Pierucci, vice president of Alstom's boiler product line. William Pomponi, vice president of Regional Sales at Alstom Power US and David Rothschild, vice president of Regional Sales at Alstom Power US, were all named in the plea agreement, and all charged separately.
Meanwhile, Polish authorities this week charged five people in a corruption case involving transport contracts won by Alstom: two ex-managers at the firm's Polish subsidiary and three former Warsaw municipal employees are suspected of links to three contracts for delivering 108 subway cars and 122 tramways to the Polish capital in 1998-2002, according to prosecutors.
The development follows September allegations from Britain's leading fraud prosecutor that a British subsidiary of Alstom paid around $8.5 million in bribes over a six-year period to win transport contracts in India, Poland and Tunisia.
Also noteworthy in the Polish incident, prosecutors have charged one person with giving bribes to a public servant.
And London's Serious Fraud Office has filed corruption charges against a British subsidiary of Alstom and two employees over securing a contract for a power plant in Lithuania, according to court documents.
Bahamas Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, QC, has confirmed that a request has been made by Bahamian authorities for any evidence involving The Bahamas to be turned over by US authorities.
Former BEC chairman J Barrie Farrington, a number of members of the corporation's board during the time in question, and former prime minister Hubert Ingraham have all called for the matter to be turned over to the police.

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News Article

January 09, 2015
Bethel: An FNM govt would probe BEC bribery claim if PLP does not

Free National Movement (FNM) Senator Carl Bethel suggested the claim that a Bahamian official received over $300,000 in bribes from a French company casts the country in a negative light, and said if the government fails to properly investigate the matter, the Free National Movement would do so following the general election.
Bethel said there is "no question" that the matter ought to be a priority.
On December 22, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that French power company Alstom SA agreed to pay $772 million to resolve allegations that it bribed high-ranking foreign government officials for lucrative projects.
Federal prosecutors said Alstom falsified its records and paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes for help in obtaining more than $4 billion in projects in countries including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and The Bahamas.
As part of the plea agreement, the company paid a fine of nearly $780 million and also detailed its corrupt practices.
Alstom said it paid bribes totaling $325,000 to a Bahamian official to swing Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) contracts to Alstom between 1999 and 2003.
"It is a matter of concern," said Bethel when asked to respond to the issue.
"In the world outside there is a perception that could be sowed about The Bahamas. But whether it had an international dimension or not, once the information came forward it is the duty of the attorney general to exercise her powers to [seek answers] and I'm sure she's doing so."
Bethel added: "There's no question that it should and must be fully investigated. I would be shocked if it were not properly and fully investigated. Others have called for it to be done and I would only indicate that I share their sentiment.
"...If they don't, the next FNM government will. That's the first order of business."
Bethel is a former attorney general and was named a Queen's Counsel this week.
Last week, Prime Minister Perry Christie acknowledged that the bribery matter is very serious and assured the government was looking into it.
He said he expects answers soon.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson has requested information from the United States regarding the allegations, including the identity of the alleged bribe taker.
Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham told The Nassau Guardian on Friday the matter should be turned over to the police.

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News Article

January 25, 2012
BEC EYES 'EXTRA TARIFF'OVER 5M IRENE COSTS

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

THE BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation (BEC) has made "a preliminary approach" to the Government for permission to levy a temporary extra tariff that would recover its $5 million-plus expenditure on Hurricane Irene repairs, as it projects a $9-$10 million net profit for its 2012 financial year.

Michael Moss, BEC's chairman, yesterday said the Ingraham administration had requested more information from the monopoly electricity supplier on its proposal to levy a "time contingent, specific tariff" that would recover the cost of September 2011's hurricane repairs.

Indicating that Irene restoration efforts were likely to have propelled BEC ...

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News Article

December 09, 2014
One hurt as engine at BEC plant catches fire

BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation officials yesterday said one employee suffered a minor "not burn-related" injury during attempts to put out a fire at the corporation's Clifton Pier plant on Sunday.

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News Article

January 13, 2015
Miller: Full amount of VAT will not go on BEC bills

BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation customers will not have to pay the full 7.5 per cent value added tax on their light bills, according to BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller.

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News Article

June 07, 2013
BEC discounts for those who pay off arrears

A staggering 90 per cent of BEC residential customers are in arrears worth a total of some $26 million, according to Bahamas Electricity Corporation chairman Leslie Miller.

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