Earlier today we were provided with a complaint prepared by Mr. Troy Garvey on behalf of Operation Justice. We welcome the information provided by Mr. Garvey and we appreciate that he has articulated his concerns to us in writing.
We understand that customers have been challenged with a higher than expected fuel surcharge. The changes that GBPC has been making over the last number of months, with Emera’s support, have been done with the best interests of our customers in mind. Our priority has been to improve reliability over the peak summer months so that we could avoid rolling black-outs experienced by customers in previous summers under the previous ownership of GBPC. This was done by bringing rental units on island as supplemental generation. In addition, the construction of the new West Sunrise plant will provide greater reliability and cost stability to the system. Going forward, GPBC will continue to seek alternatives to reduce GBPC’s reliance on heavy and light oil.
GBPC is preparing a detailed response to Mr. Garvey’s concerns and will make this available to our stakeholders and customers in the coming days. In advance of this GBPC and Emera would like to provide the following information to customers in relation to the information provided to us today.
- Sale of Power Company – The sale of majority ownership of GBPC to Emera was done in full accordance with all regulations and approved by the Government of The Bahamas.
- ICD Utilities– Individual shareholders of ICD Utilities do not have any direct control over decision-making at GBPC. Minority shareholders are passive investors in the power company and the power company retains its own independent Board of Directors which oversees the management and takes full responsibility for the company.
- Fuel Surcharge – The current fuel surcharge is 21.0316 cents. This puts us in the bottom third (among the lowest cost) of 13 Caribbean Carilec Utilities for “all in” electricity prices. There is a very direct link to the correct comparators of world fuel prices and the fuel surcharge over the years, including 2011. GBPC does not burn crude oil, we burn # 6 and #2 oil. The prices being quoted in the media do not reflect the costs of these oil sources but the fuel surcharge does. As we stated in a media release yesterday, GBPC is actively working to stabilize fuel costs and will implement a fuel hedging program to provide greater predictability on fuel costs and reduce the volatility in the cost of electricity to customers.
- Billing – Any customer who has concerns regarding their particular electricity bill is encouraged to speak with a member of GBPC’s customer service team. When a customer brings an issue forward, we review it, verify what we can and if changes are required, we make them. GBPC has, of its own accord, been auditing customer billings on a regular basis for the last few years and correcting any problems as they are identified.
- Customers and pre-existing bills – It is not, and has never been, the practice of GBPC to require customers to pay pre-existing bills. Any customer encountering this issue should contact the customer service centre immediately to ensure the matter is resolved.
- The estimation of meters – Less than 4% of GBPC customers have their bills estimated. It is not GBPC’s preference to estimate bills and every attempt is made to gain access to meters so that they can be read. Any estimated bills are corrected for the customer when access to the property is provided and meters can be read.
- The use of steam generation plants – GBPC has always maintained that it will run the most efficient generation mix of its assets, including the steam units, diesels and rental generation, to ensure that customers are provided with a reliable and cost effective power supply. GBPC has never stated that we would not be running the steam units as we do continue to run unit #12 as steam is a requirement of the plant. The rental units continue to be used as supplemental generation to ensure reliability and therefore the rental costs on the unit continue to be included in the fuel surcharge. As load has decreased and GBPC has been able to use the rental units less, the fuel surcharge has decreased in September, October, and November.
- Damage to equipment – There is a formal process to be undertaken in cases of equipment damage claims between the customer and GBPC. Again customers are encouraged to contact the customer service center to discuss this process and have their complaint considered.
GPBC remains committed to improving reliability and stabilizing costs to customers as much as possible. We appreciate the concerns brought forward and we will provide more detailed information to customers in the coming days.