Residents of Abaco and The Bahamas at large wait in great anticipation to see what effect the government’s agreement with PowerSecure to manage the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) will have on the reliability of their supply and the cost of their service.
The government signed a transitional agreement with PowerSecure on July 22, “formally engaging” the North Carolina-based company to conduct further analysis and produce a business plan to reform the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC).
Any improvements in the reliability and cost will be met with relief from consumers, especially after the recent uptick in outages (although two of those interruptions in recent weeks have been related to traffic accidents).
As per the transitional agreement, PowerSecure will gather key data, and evaluate the corporation’s finances, power generation and power reliability issues.
It is also expected to hedge a fuel agreement with an oil company.
The value of the transitional agreement is $900,000.
PowerSecure is expected to complete its business plan within 60 days and present it to Cabinet.
Upon approval of that plan, the government will sign a management agreement with the company, officials said.
Deputy Prime Minister Philip ‘Brave’ Davis called the agreement an important step forward in reducing the cost of electricity and improving the reliability of power.
He said PowerSecure will “now be more intensively involved in the day-to-day operations to get the information they require to finalize and put together the business plan that we think is necessary to carry us through the next five years or beyond.
“The PowerSecure team has been on the ground in [New Providence] and across the Family Islands, engaged with BEC management in extensive due diligence to gather key data that will inform their business plan,” he said following the signing at BEC’s headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.
“These activities have focused on evaluating strategies for enhanced generation capacity, improved transmission and distribution, and the opportunities for the integration of more renewables, particularly solar.
“The government has also had very productive discussions with the bank regarding the rate reduction bonds, which are essential to launch the new BEC on a foundation of financial health.”
According to Davis, a new board will be ushered in by the end of July.
When asked how PowerSecure will bring down the cost of electricity and bring about more reliable service, PowerSecure Chief Revenue Officer Ronnie Brannen admitted that the company is still in the “formal research” phase and is still exploring different options.
“We are actively engaged in looking at the reliability that you currently have and what are the events that caused the outages or the disruption in service,” Brannen said.
“At this time we are not prepared to make comment about what plans of action we would take because we are still in the due diligence phase of understanding the cause of the events and how to prevent them.
“At this point in time we are really not ready to actively discuss the plan to improve it.”
He added, “There is a lot of evaluation criteria going into this.
“The main thing is, we really want to make the right decision for the future of The Bahamas; not a short term decision, but the right decision.”
Asked about restructuring the workforce, Brannen said the company is studying the matter, but it is not prepared to make a recommendation at this time.
PowerSecure’s management contract would cover a period of five years. It’s not yet clear when they will take full management responsibilities over or how and when changes will be implemented.
Meanwhile, BEC customers wait, hopeful for better service and cheaper bills.