FNM Leader Michael Pintard Calls on Minister Sears to Come Clean about BPL’s Current State of Affairs

Jul 21, 2023

FNM Leader Michael Pintard has issued a statement urging Minister Sears to provide an honest and transparent account of the current state of affairs at the Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL). This call comes in response to the recent announcement by BPL regarding the implementation of load shedding in two-hour intervals due to a significant lack or generation.

Just last month, Minister Sears addressed the concerns of the Bahamian public, acknowledging their worries about the possibility of more load shedding during the summer. The recent events have left the country dumbfounded, as load shedding has become a reality once again, despite the promises made by Prime Minister Davis and Minister Sears during the campaign trail.

During the tenure of the Free National Movement (FNM), BPL experienced significant improvements in its operations. Under the FNM’s leadership, electricity fuel charges were successfully reduced and stabilized at 10.5 cents/kWh through BPL’s innovative hedging strategy. This marked a historic achievement for the company, as it was the first time financial hedging had been utilized to benefit consumers by lowering and stabilizing fuel charges.

Moreover, the overall “all-in” average electricity costs witnessed a significant decrease from approximately 32 cents/kWh in 2019 to a record low of 23 cents/kWh in 2020. This placed the Bahamas as the third-lowest in the Caribbean in terms of electricity costs.

Prime Minister Davis and Minister Sears refusal to maintain the Hedge program resulted in an increase in the cost of fuel by some 163 per cent. Their failure largely accounted for the government extending a $110 million dollars plus loan to BPL to address its fuel costs arrears.

FNM Leader Michael Pintard Calls on Minister Sears to Come Clean about BPL’s Current State of Affairs

The FNM had positioned BPL to eliminate its legacy debt and inject $200 million into the company’s capital budget through the $535 million Rate Reduction Bond (RRB) offering. BPL would have been able to address infrastructural deficiencies, retrain and align its Human Resources and implement renewable energy initiatives utilizing the $200 millions dollars obtained through the RRB. It is regrettable that we did not complete this process before the 2021 general elections. Similarly, the Davis-Cooper team failed to execute it once advised although interest rates were still attractive at that time.

Additionally, the FNM had collaborated with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to develop a robust renewable energy strategy. This strategy involved a Public- Private Partnership (PPP) model, where the government would provide land, BPL would handle technical requirements and oversight, and the private sector would provide the necessary funding. The implementation of utility-scale renewable energy projects across the Bahamas was envisaged through this structure.

Under the FNM’s plan, BPL’s personnel would have undergone comprehensive training and upskilling to assume new generation, transmission, and operational roles, resulting in a more efficient company. The objective was to proactively manage headcount and achieve profitability within 36 months of the RRB funding’s completion.

It is evident that the promises made by the current administration have not materialized, leading to a setback in the progress made by BPL. The Bahamian public deserves to know the truth about the state of affairs at BPL, and Minister Sears must come forward with a comprehensive and honest account of the situation.

The FNM remains committed to holding the government accountable for its promises and ensuring that BPL regains its stability and delivers reliable electricity services to the Bahamian people.

Minister Sears met BPL with sufficient generation power (326 MW) to meet the peak demand. He must answer what went wrong? The Prime Minister and Sears must develop and share the long promised strategic plan for BPL.

Finally, in January 2023, possibly during the mid-year report it was reported that the contract with Wartsila was terminated. We now understand that 2 of the 7 Wartsila engines have been lost for the summer since the departure of Wartsila.

How can it be, that since the startup of Station A with Wartsila responsible for full Operation and Maintenance that BPL was able to successfully benefit from this Station’s power production…. however, within less than 6 months of Wartsila being released 2 engines have been lost? Is there a correlation?

Hon. Michael Pintard

Free National Movement, Leader

July 2, 2023

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