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While blessed with high per capita income, Bahamians continue to be plagued by the high cost of basic utilities with none more daunting than the astounding .38kwh charged by the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC). And even more so, BEC continues to prolong maintenance leading to operation failures that require further borrowing to rent additional generators for peak load demands this summer.
This is a dismal state of affairs.
The resignation of Michael Moss as chairman of BEC and with the change in government, we are presented with the opportunity for a review and overhaul of the entire government-owned entity. With high costs and low reliability, the government needs to take control of costs and perform scheduled maintenance to keep our existing turbines and generators running. We need to invite and pursue innovative power generating technologies such as OTEC.
Blaming high costs and the inconsistent price of oil is merely a scapegoat tactic since oil has fluctuated consistently over the last decade with an apparent upward trend, and has generally been high in price for many years. The oil embargo of 1973 should have proved a warning to countries reliant on foreign oil, but largely stable prices from the late 1980s to late 1990s masked the volatility of the crude oil market.
Even with the prospectus of oil drilling in The Bahamas, the actual extraction of oil, if economically viable, is years away and does nothing to resolve the need to pay $6 million for rented generators this summer. There is no investment in renting generators; it is merely a stop-gap to keep our lights on and refrigerators humming.
Without a doubt The Bahamas incurs significant infrastructure costs to provide basic utilities to residents scattered throughout our 700 islands. But we have yet to grasp and fully realize the potential contribution of innovative and renewable power generating technologies. One certainly hopes that BEC will maintain the MoU signed with OTEC and that the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) will encourage investor contributions, if not allow OTEC to break ground.
BEC is a monopoly energy provider expected at least by the people to provide reliable cost-efficient electricity and if not break-even, accrue a small debt simply by the enormity of the task to provide electricity to our island nation.
But it cannot, and yet, legislation continues to discourage individual investments in renewable technologies that may even provide power back to the grid. Solar water heaters made a brief appearance in the press after the government received an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant and invited eligible homeowners to apply.
Some say the government relies too heavily on taxes levied from petroleum, which discourages it from renewable energy investment; but how can a government corporation with escalating liabilities really be a positive contributor to the economy?
That's not even to mention the burden of high operating costs to local businesses and households.
Yet, business continues as usual with a $105 million 48 MW power plant in Wilson City, and a new $23.7 million 24 MW turbine for Nassau in summer 2013, and $80 million 52 MW power plant in Grand Bahama by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, all of which run on heavy fuel oil otherwise known as Bunker C. We continue to invest in antiquated technology that is bad for our health and our economy.
Abaco continues to experience major power outages even with the new Wilson City plant online. There are serious doubts in BEC's ability to maintain the new generators. Performing scheduled maintenance is crucial for any facility or piece of machinery. Anyone who has failed to change his or her motor oil over the years of owning a car is more than knowledgeable about the perils of skipped or delayed servicing.
Let's hope that the national budget released at the end of this month will provide additional concessions to promote high efficiency products and the PLP will continue to work OTEC and encourage additional alternative energy investment to secure reliable, safe, and cost-effective sources of energy.
We are entering the peak of the 2012 election campaign. The main parties have named their candidates and they and their workers are moving around communities seeking votes.
We remind Bahamians to be cautious during this period. Not everyone wearing a party shirt, or purporting to be a party representative, is honest or a representative of a political organization.
A Sea Breeze couple told The Nassau Guardian that last week thieves disguised as political campaigners knocked on their door, kicked it in and stole a licensed shotgun, some gold coins, personal items and the family's puppy.
The robbers reportedly dropped paraphernalia for Sea Breeze Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) candidate Hope Strachan near the family's fence.
Strachan said what was done was a despicable act and nobody involved with her campaign was behind it. She added that the door-to-door phase or her campaign hadn't reached that section of Sea Breeze when the incident occurred.
During election season, voters should not feel compelled to let anyone on their properties, or in to their homes, just because they appear to be campaigning. If the people in the group look unsavory and you feel uncomfortable, you should ask them to leave your property. If they do not, police should be called. Responsible members of an established political organization would leave immediately if asked to do so.
Property crime in The Bahamas increased by seven percent last year. Housebreaking increased by three percent, with 3237 cases being recorded. Here in New Providence, housebreaking increased by eight percent.
Dishonest people will try to use this period to take advantage of honest citizens. The case of this family should cause all of us to be on guard.
Oil in Cuba
A Chinese drilling rig arrived Thursday in waters north of Havana. Cuba is set to drill an exploratory well for oil. The Spanish oil company Repsol RPF said it expects to begin drilling within days to find out whether the reserves in the area are as rich as predicted, according to The Associated Press.
The size of Cuba's offshore reserves is still not known. However, it is estimated that five billion to nine billion barrels of oil may exist under the Cuban sea.
The area Cuba is set to explore is in the vicinity of the area Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) has been exploring in Bahamian territory. If Cuba find the reserves are as rich as hoped, it would be reasonable to assume that a significant quantity of extractable hydrocarbons also exist under Bahamian waters.
Such as discovery from a test well in Cuba would still mean that large-scale commercial oil extraction is years away.
The economic fate of Cuba would change dramatically if a large quantity of oil is discovered. The price of a barrel of oil on the international market is $97. Bahamians should follow closely what is happening in Cuba. Because we are exploring the same area, our fates are linked when it comes to oil.
It never ceases to shock right thinking and ordinary human beings, how some people go out of their way to fool and deceive others.
But history is loaded with examples of how those same people only end up fooling and deceiving themselves.
What they do over a period of time, is that they decide whatever they want to achieve, by whatever means, and then they invent reasons to try and make it look right.
Drilling for oil in The Bahamas is a contentious issue, yet it is one that can only be resolved by moving the process forward. Under the previous administration, the process was delayed when a moratorium was placed on oil exploration in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill. And now, the government has feigned decisiveness by confirming compliance with license requirements subject to a public referendum on oil exploration and drilling.
While public involvement is the foundation of a democracy, public officials are elected because they encompass the qualities and intellect to lead and implement policies that positively impact future generations. When needed, government officials seek expert advice and consultation to steer technical policy decisions.
Oil drilling carries a heavy burden because the economic benefits are vast yet clouded by the potential for an environmental disaster and corruption. This confluence of socio-economic and environmental factors compounded by cutting-edge technology requires a team of experts to model, analyze and report various scenarios to the layman.
Will the people be adequately informed and educated on oil drilling specific to The Bahamas? For a country with a dearth of technical professions, it seems very unlikely that voters will be fully prepared to make this very important decision.
Unfortunately, whether members of the public approve or reject oil drilling in The Bahamas, they will be the scapegoat for the lack of political will by either governing party, the Free National Movement (FNM) or Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), to make a decision.
A referendum should not be used as a political ploy to deflect responsibility.
Even if the last exploratory well was drilled in 1986, why has the government decided that it now requires a public referendum? Credible attempts to add The Bahamas to the list of oil producing countries have been on-going for the past 60 years.
A frenzy of activity occurred between 1945 and 1971 followed by a subsequent gap until 1982 when amended petroleum legislation stimulated a brief renewal in interest. Licenses were held at one time by Chevron, Texaco, Mobile and other principle operators still largely recognizable today.
Unlike previous attempts, the combination of technological advancements, the rise in crude oil prices and the continued expenditure of resources by BPC, this may well be the first time in Bahamian history that oil extraction becomes possible as a viable industry.
With the Deepwater Horizon spill still featuring prominently in discourse, the government may fear a public relations disaster by endorsing oil exploration. But the physical conditions south of Andros differ vastly from the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Bahamas is in a perilous economic state with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noting the GDP-to-debt ratio approaching 60 percent in part because of "contingent liabilities among public corporations such as the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC)". In an ironic twist of fate, the very industry under scrutiny holds the country hostage for energy production because oil prices continue to rise.
But statements from the IMF touting the potential revenues based on the size of oil deposits should be carefully regarded. Lessening The Bahamas' reliance on petroleum products for energy production would be a significant economic stimulus, and oil revenues, if approved and if extracted, would be an added bonus. The Bahamas cannot wait and count on prospective oil resources to become self-sufficient.
The Government of The Bahamas must commit to investment in renewable energy technologies. Diversifying the energy portfolio of The Bahamas is an act that does not require a referendum.
If Bahamas Petroleum Company's (BPC) calculations are correct, there is a super-giant oil field lying beneath Bahamian waters. All that needs to be done to get the nearly nine billion barrels of oil it believes is likely there, is to figure out exactly where it is, and go get it without spilling a single...
The critical discussion will be how oil revenues should be invested or spent if recoverable oil reserves are confirmed in The Bahamas, according to an international expert, not how much of the pie the country gets.
Chemotherapy is essentially a treatment regime that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast growing cells in the body. These fast growing cells are not only bad cancer cells in the body, but also many good cells too. It is because of this fact that the side effects of chemotherapy occur. These side effects are the “Achilles tendons” of the chemical therapies referred to here.
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