Friday, June 16, 2017
By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Bahamas Electricity Corporation Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday blamed the frequent power outages at Bahamas Power and Light on the former administration’s decision to hire "foreigners" to run the power company rather than allow Bahamians to "fix the problems".
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Miller said had former Prime Minister Perry Christie allowed the former BEC board to remain in place and "follow through on our plans" the Bahamian people would not have this problem.
Mr Miller served as executive chairman of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), now called BPL, until late 2015. He was removed from his post at the utility provider shortly after the government announced that a transition service agreement had been signed with PowerSecure.
The outspoken MP was later made chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation.
Yesterday he expressed anger over the present state of the company as he insisted that many of the ongoing issues faced by BPL were in the process of being resolved under his regime.
"It is just amazing to me. If Mr Christie allowed the former board to stay in place and follow through on our plans, the Bahamian would not have these problems. We had financing through the Danish Import Export Bank and we were getting a loan at a 2 per cent interest rate that would have significantly reduced the fuel costs to Bahamians," Mr Miller said.
"This would have been settled but they wanted these foreigners and it is a disgrace what has happened. What the hell these new people doing and why haven't secured a long term fuel contract? These people getting a minimum of $5 million of our hard earned money in these difficult times to do nothing. I see why these people run us. They had every right not to return us because of the things we did and did not do."
Mr Miller said he hopes the Minnis led government will fix the issue in BPL fast or the summer will be "rough" for Bahamians.
"This summer is going to be hard because BPL does not have the capacity. We need an extra 50 megawatts to get through the summer. Baha Mar is now open and using power and BPL has no reserves," Mr Miller said.
"Let's hope the Free National Movement truly does believe in Bahamians. I am looking at them and listening to them. I know Dr Hubert Minnis means well, but he needs to show the people that he cares about them by reducing the cost of electricity and fixing the issues at BPL."
Mr Miller's comments came one day after New Providence experienced an island wide power outage.
The company blamed the outage on a “cable failure” and reassured customers that the utility provider would find “immediate solutions to this problem and long-term strategies to prevent a recurrence.”
Last month, BPL expressed “confidence” in its readiness to take on the peak summer months with its higher power generation capability.
At the time, BPL said while it expected the needed power generation this summer to peak at 255 megawatts, its current generation availability is over 345mw. This is 90mw higher than the demand expected this summer, BPL said.
In addition, the electricity provider said transmission cables between Blue Hills Power Station and the Big Pond Sub-Station have been replaced and upgraded to improve the capacity and reliability of the transmission system.
Pointing to the period from June through to September last year, in which BPL experienced challenges due to low generation availability and reliability, the company said recently it wanted to ensure the Bahamians would not suffer from the same issues this summer.