Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) has disappeared and Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has opened their doors officially in Abaco with the rebranding celebration and customer appreciation event held on February 10 in Marsh Harbour.
The event lasted all day with food and drink as well as a spinning wheel for customers who paid bills to get something back.
On hand for the celebration was Chief Executive Officer of BPL Pamela Hill along with Executive Vice President of BPL Ken Kociuba.
Ms. Hill said that the day’s events were celebrating the rebranding to Bahamas Power and Light in Abaco and said it was to accomplish two things.
“The first part is thanking our customers,” she said. “We know that electricity is absolutely fundamental to the forward progress of not just a household but to a country and we would like to pause from time to time and really recognize that.”
She added that they also wanted to help their customers and employees “fully engage in what BPL’s brand and the expectations that customers and employees should have of that brand.”
“BPL’s focus is really three core things: delivering on reliability, affordability and customer service,” she stated.
She said “reliability has to do with ensuring that electricity moves from being a topic of conversation, that the service becomes so normalized that only during extreme events like Hurricane Matthew do you question it.”
She noted the ‘transformative’ success of BPL in implementing a new six megawatt generator in Harbour Island; “it’s that same aspiration that we have as we look to not only the smaller islands but the larger ones.”
On the affordability front, she said the focus is on two areas, one of which is lowering the cost of electricity, and the way that you do that is by deploying power plants that are both cost effective (efficiently burn fuel) and the second is to change the mix of fuel,
“So here on the family islands we burn diesel because that is a fuel that works well with the kind of generation that we have, but diesel is very expensive and when you look at the untapped resource of the sun it only seems natural that that is something that would be available to take advantage of to lower the fuel cost,” she said.
Ms. Hill said that the other part of affordability is helping customers to stabilize their electric bill so that it’s not a surprise what it might be when they open it.
“We will work with customers going forward on budget billing and other ways they can level their billing and also work with them more on energy efficiency,” she added.
She said that “In customer service our focus is on helping our customers leverage automation such as automated billing, where customers if they want to can come in and pay they can, but can just as easily pay by phone.”
Mr. Kociuba said that BPL has been doing and “ongoing assessment of Abacos infrastructure, what we have, what are our issues, how do we fix them and how do we close the gap so that we achieve reliability, affordability and customer service.”
He noted that there was a lot of anxiety by the employees and the customers to be sure BPL delivers on all of those points.
He said “We have a conceptual picture of what we need to do in Abaco as well as the other islands; we understand that we have system frequency issues that have to be addressed, voltage drop issues that have to be addressed and we will be back for further assessment with some key technical people to go through all those issues.”
Ms. Hill said that in order to address affordability “Our priority is really taking advantage of fuel choices that are affordable and technologies that are tried and true – not just cost effective – so we can move forward quickly with implementation.”
She said that BPL is evaluating three types of fuel, including solar which they feel is a good fit for Abaco due to the availability of land. They are also looking at natural gas (LNG) and propane as possible alternative fuels.
She said they are looking to start working with solar energy this year beginning with utilizing a grid system taking advantage of homes that already have solar hookups. They are in the final phases of having a small scale solar program being approved by URCA which they hope to roll out in Abaco and elsewhere in the Bahamas this year.
Both the LNG and Propane options are more suited for larger scale generation and would likely be limited to Nassau.