I was astonished to read in the April 1st Abaconian that the Chief Councillors were “writing Minister Leslie Miller…asking that he implement his recent statement that switching BEC’s primary fuel to Bunker C would reduce electric bills by 30%.” Is this another April Fool’s joke?
In the March 15th Abaconian, Mr. Miller said that the diesel fuel used at Wilson City costs 33% more than the Bunker C used at Clifton Pier. But a 33% cut in fuel cost does not equate to a 33% cut in your electric bill – not even close. If this were true, the people in New Providence who get their power from Clifton Pier (which uses Bunker C) would be paying 33% less than the people who get it from Blue Hills (which uses diesel). Doesn’t work that way.
Wilson City supplies about one tenth of BEC’s total, nation-wide power, so a 33% reduction in fuel cost here would only mean a 3.3% reduction in everyone’s – nation wide – fuel surcharge. Also, the fuel surcharge is only a part of your bill – call it half – and that’s the only part that would be reduced. So now we’re down to about 1.6% reduction in your bill.
But that’s only the start of it. You can’t just put Bunker C in a truck and deliver it, like diesel. Bunker C is basically the toxic sludge that’s left over at the refinery when all the good stuff has been refined out of it. It’s the consistency of peanut butter. You have to heat it to pump it. So we would be back to the original Wilson City plan, with 3 miles of heated pipeline, a docking facility, and double-hulled tankers coming through North Bar Channel. Remember when BEC said they had saved $11 million by not putting in the pipeline? Yeah, THAT pipeline.
So now you have an $11 million outlay – and you know it would end up being more like $22 million by the time we were through – which, although it’s not meant to work this way, would inevitably find its way into your fuel surcharge. So your bill would go up, not down. Oh, and by the way, BEC doesn’t HAVE $11 million to spend on a pipeline. They couldn’t even come up with $6 million to buy new generators in New Providence last year, and had to rent some instead. They almost ran out of fuel completely because they were $55 million in arrears on their fuel bill. They have $185 million in accounts receivable. They’re broke.
And you’ll notice I’m not even mentioning the fact that this pipeline would go within feet – if not inches – of the shores of both Spencers Bight and Bight of Old Robinson, both of which are soon to become part of the East Creeks park system. And the tankers would have to go right by – if not through – the Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park. That’s if they made it through North Bar Channel, where the Legacy ran aground for several days in 2011. Imagine if that had been a boatload of Bunker C pounding away on the rocks out there. Imagine what would happen when – not if – the pipeline started leaking. Bye bye parks.
So I really really hope this was just another April Fool’s joke.
- L. Ball
Living on solar power and loving it.