energy

DNA Chairman: We are in a national crisis!

  • PLP and FNM have failed on energy

  • Vulnerable Bahamians suffering under load shedding

  • Blame game is not the solution

  • Private sector should assess economic impact

  • DNA is only Party with a plan

Bahamians are in a state of hopelessness, frustration and annoyance by the recent blackouts that have become a part of everyday life in our country. The load shedding exercise being carried out by BPL is evidence that successive Free National Movement (FNM) and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administrations including the current Minnis-led administration lack a viable plan for reliable and sustainable energy. Meanwhile, while the people sweat, PM Minnis and his entourage are in comfortable and air conditioned accommodation at a resort in St. Lucia.


Unfortunately, the real economic impact of this crisis cannot be quantified and it is yet to be made known to the Bahamian people. The current load shedding exercise could not have come at a worse time when children are home for the summer break, home patients need reliable electricity, the elderly are in discomfort and persons with special needs are at risk and babies lack comfort. Additionally, struggling Bahamians are losing appliances daily and thanks to nature, we are experiencing heat and humid levels like no time in recent history. 


The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) is also concerned about the overall impact of unreliable power supply and telecommunication services on the Bahamian economy; particularly, as it relates to small businesses during these tough economic times. Many businesses have had to close early, shutdown or not open at all due to their inability to access electricity. Considering the fact that most Bahamian businesses or homes do not have generators or solar power, this is foreseeable. In cases where few businesses have backup generators, the cost of maintenance and purchasing fuel has significantly increased business costs. 


The DNA calls upon the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), Carmichael, Coconut Grove and other Business Leagues to survey their members in order to gain intelligence on the net effect of these blackouts including the impact on turnover, profit, business volumes and customer patronage.


It is unacceptable that The Bahamas is experiencing this assault on its people in the 21st Century and we in the DNA submit that this is a national crisis. Added to the BPL saga, we have also been experiencing problems with BTC phone lines making it difficult for Bahamians to communicate, while lack of access on numerous occasions to emergency numbers like 911 and 919 pose a security risk and could literally mean the difference between life and death. We could and should do better in our Bahamaland. 


We need visionary leaders that will utilize the natural resources of our country and move toward alternative energy. What we do not need are PLP and FNM Members of Parliament arguing over who made the Bahamian people sweat the most as they have been doing. Our persistence and reliance on fossil fuels is having a costly impact on doing business in The Bahamas, our nation's ability to gain a competitive edge over our regional and global counterparts and equally important, the right of Bahamians to enjoy their homes in peace without sweat or fear of break in from delinquents.


A DNA led government would have been full speed into our comprehensive energy plan for solarisation, waste to energy, the use of liquefied natural gas and other forms of alternative energy to reduce the cost and reliability of electricity at the two year mark. This would have improved our position on the ease of doing business index and positioned our country to be a global leader in reducing carbon emissions and promoting a sustainable environment. Instead, we are stuck with visionless leadership who are prepared to pander to and reward special interests groups who donated to their campaigns while maintaining the status quo of monopolistic power.


We appreciate the hardworking team of technicians and professionals who through no fault of their own are working hard to bring relief to the Bahamian people; however, we in the DNA submit that true relief will come when we rid ourselves of visionless and lackluster leadership from both the PLP and FNM.


Omar B. Smith

National Chairman

Democratic National Alliance


Where there is no vision, the people sweat!

  • BPL’s failures have become predictable

  • Working class feels the brunt of electrical challenges

  • Bahamians not getting good value for money 

  • DNA to put forward new position paper on energy


The rash of power outages spreading across The Bahamas is highly unacceptable. The excuses that have been proffered are nothing more than a continuation of excuses that have marked the incompetence that has been going on at BPL/BEC for decades. The question is, will anyone be held accountable for this fiasco? Will anyone be held accountable to The Bahamian people? 


This perennial debacle is a reflection of inept government policies and decisions that are made based on political expediency and relationships with special interests who benefit from these government policies. The Bahamian people are sick and tired and have had enough of the suffering that has been inflicted upon them by successive PLP and FNM administrations. Every year, millions of dollars are paid by the Bahamian people in the form of taxes and fees for inconsistent essential services. Special interests have continued to get wealthier off the backs of poor and working class Bahamians who could ill afford these outrageously high electricity costs, much less the standby generators that the wealthy use to avoid the inconveniences at BPL.


The declining level of service rendered to the Bahamian people is not only cruel, but symptomatic of the way in which BPL and BEC has been managed. The shady deals and corrupt practices that have been common place has dictated the level of service that The Bahamian people have been receiving. The Democratic National Alliance DEMANDS that the government open all of the operations of BPL to the daylight of public scrutiny, so that all of us can see the details of the agreements that were supposedly made on behalf of the Bahamian people. We challenge the government of the Bahamas to prove that best practices were followed in the procurement of these new generators, the service contracts and the fuel purchasing contracts. What are the rates being paid for these rental generators and to whom are we paying?


As part of our good governance pledge in our platform, The DNA assures The Bahamian people that the suffering, exploitation and fleecing of The Bahamian people will come to an end when we are in office. In our forthcoming position paper on energy, The Bahamian people will see our bold vision that includes, among other things, renewable resources and alternative forms of energy generation. There will be brighter days under the DNA!


Omar Smith

Chairman

Democratic National Alliance

BPL shrouded in controversy under FNM Administration

  • Unanswered questions on Shell RFP

  • Probe into BPL Board termination outstanding

  • Wartsila deal not transparent

  • No guarantee that $95M will be recouped

The Democratic National Alliance (DNA) has long advocated for reform within our energy sector to reduce the cost of doing business and its negative impact on the disposable income of Bahamians. The pain and suffering placed on the backs of the masses by the current administration as a result of the 60% increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate has further worsened the financial situation of most Bahamians.


It is against this backdrop that the DNA supports any effort aimed at improving the reliability of power supply and reducing the cost for our people. However, the government must ensure that its initiatives are not covered in secrecy and controversy as shown in the recent award of a $95 million contract to Wartsila.


This FNM administration does not seem to learn from its mistakes or simply does not believe that it should be accountable to the populace. Having failed to answer pertinent questions surrounding the Request for Proposals (RFP) process that led to the selection of Shell, BPL has again been found wanting in the selection process and plans for the installation of a 132-megawatt engine power plant by Wartsila. This follows the tainted process involving the selection of the Town Centre Mall as the new location of the main post office and the initial botched handling of the Nassau Cruise Port management RFP.


The Chief Executive of BPL was recently quoted as stating that the company will likely take an equity ownership interest in Shell’s new power plant in return for the investment of $95 million of taxpayers’ funds. This is bearing in mind that no commercial terms have been agreed and an agreement has not been signed following the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This latest move suggests that BPL under the FNM operates in an ad hoc and incoherent manner. How could BPL invest $95 million of our funds to generate 132 of the 220 megawatts required of Shell without a commitment or undertaking by Shell that we will be reimbursed or given an equity stake in the new power plant? It is unacceptable that BPL is speculating on the method of recovery of our investment and we call on them to state unequivocally that the $95 million will in fact be recouped from Shell.


Many Bahamians still recall the Alstom SA/BEC bribery scandal that occurred under a previous FNM administration. Our nation’s reputation was not enhanced by this debacle and it is important that our government continues to dispel any notion of impropriety or corruption. This is why we are concerned that a negative trend has emerged in relation to BPL under the FNM.


The unceremonious termination of the previous BPL Board amid allegations of political interference and unethical behavior remains unaddressed. This is despite the Prime Minister’s promise of a probe into the matter.


There are pertinent questions that the DNA wants answered concerning this matter. Are Bahamians being trained to operate BPL's engines, if not, why not?  What is Shell’s official position’s on this matter.


The DNA calls on BPL to address these matters forthwith. We implore this administration to desist from paying lip service to transparency and accountability in governance. Their actions have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted, and their word is not their bond. The Bahamian people deserve better and the DNA remains the only vehicle for the institutionalization of good governance in The Bahamas.

Buscheme Armbrister, Deputy Leader

Democratic National Alliance