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‘Immense Problems’ If Bpl Not Improved By Year-End

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

The Bahamas will suffer “immense problems” if Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) closes 2019 in the same condition it is now, a prominent businessman has warned.

Sir Franklyn Wilson told Tribune Business it was impossible to see the state-owned utility monopoly, and its electricity costs, “getting any worse” than they are now, estimating that its struggles were costing The Bahamas a “conservative” $10m per month.

Arguing that it was “so obvious what needs to happen” to transform BPL, the Arawak Homes and Sunshine Holdings chairman said it came down to “executing” changes that had been recognised as critical since the last Ingraham administration.

Focusing on The Bahamas’ economic prospects in 2019, Sir Franklyn added that it would be similarly “bad news” if the Minnis administration continues to find itself holding the Grand Lucayan resort come year-end.

And he expressed hope that the private sector, aided by ongoing US economic growth momentum, would find a way to “overcome the shortcomings in government” and “political immaturity and divisiveness” among The Bahamas’ leaders.

With high electricity costs continuing to burden businesses and households alike, Sir Franklyn told Tribune Business: “I can’t see BPL getting any worse. If BPL a year from now is not significantly improved, the country’s problems will be immense.

“I believe a year from now that BPL will be more efficient, have more capacity and not just be costing so much of the country’s money on its inability to execute on what so obviously needs to happen.

“Going back to the time of Michael Moss as executive chairman (to end-2012), there’s not been much discussion on what needs to happen at BPL. It’s been a question of how and who. BPL needs more capacity, and it’s costing time and money by not getting it done,” he continued.

“We’re in this wonderful position where we’ve identified the specific things that can be done. These are things we can check off the list and, if they are done, one would expect the overall effect to be favourable for the country.

“It’s so obvious what needs to happen. It’s pure execution; there’s no philosophy here. It’s getting it done. Every month it takes for BPL to do these things costs the country $10m a month; $10m goes down the pike. I’m being conservative in saying that. The country can sustain it, but it’s not in the country’s interest to sustain it.”

BPL electricity bills spiked towards the end of 2018 due to a combination of global oil price rises and the series of fires at its Clifton Pier Power Plant. The latter knocked out 60 Mega Watts (MW) of its most efficient generation capacity and forced BPL to rely heavily on its Blue Hills power plant, which uses more expensive fuel.

The state-owned utility was effectively caught in the “perfect storm”, with backlogged maintenance and aged, poorly maintained equipment further exacerbating its woes. BPL’s New Providence customers are also likely to see a major improvement in energy costs until 2021-2022, when Shell’s new multi-fuel power plant becomes operational.

In the short-term, the utility is aiming to reduce costs via the proposed Rate Reduction Bond (RRB) that is intended to refinance around $600-$650m in legacy obligations - including $350m in bond and bank debt; an $100m unfunded pension deficit; and numerous environmental clean-ups stemming from past oil spills.

Sir Franklyn, looking beyond New Providence, added: “I hope the Government will find someone they can virtually give the Grand Lucayan to provided they agree to inject capital and do things. If a year from now the Government continues to own that hotel that will really be bad news for the country.”

Turning to his 2019 “wish list”, the Arawak Homes chair added: “I pray for 2019 that we are less self-destructive, that we are able to build cohesive communities in the country, and the political leadership shows far greater maturity.

“I think that today the political leadership is not showing the political maturity in the interests of real, sustainable national development. It is my hope that the private sector do things that overcome shortcomings in the Government.

“I think we are destroying ourselves because of the immaturity of our political leaders by governing the country on the basis that half the people don’t count, and only half of the people are needed to run the country.”

Comments

proudloudandfnm 1 year ago

Um ongoing US economic growth. More like get ready for another huge recession...

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DDK 1 year ago

The country can sustain it" I don't think so! These politicians just don't get it. Nor are they big on global economics, much less Bahamas economics. As long as money is going in THEIR pockets, all is well!

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realitycheck242 1 year ago

Yep .....thats what the economist are predicting for 2019

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year ago

Snake really believes he's God's gift to our country even though everything this loud mouthed, greedy, and most corrupt SOB has ever touched in the Bahamas has resulted in foreign investors or most Bahamians getting royally screwed. This looney-tune will stand on your land, look you in the eye, and tell you to get off of his land. Just ask most of the past and present land owners in the south Eleuthera area. His wife's law firm knows every trick in the books when it comes to quieting title to your land for her husband's benefit. LMAO

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Clamshell 1 year ago

On Eleuthera, he has sucked in foreign investors from 5 continents, bled them all dry, and after 15 years his “resort” is still a dead construction site. The man has balls the size of coconuts — and a head that’s just as thick.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year ago

"Sir Franklyn, looking beyond New Providence, added: “I hope the Government will find someone they can virtually give the Grand Lucayan to provided they agree to inject capital and do things."

Weird, this is the reason thought the govt executed this completely nonsensical deal, so they could say a few months down the road, our hands are tied, we have to virtually give this property to so and so crony for two dollars. And all of it planned from the minute they bought the hotel, why waste your own capital for the purchase if the treasury right there? Minnis will fly around the islands saying its give the property away, lose the 120 million we put in or end up like Haiti.

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ted4bz 1 year ago

After all, we should expect nothing other than this, it’s the plan!! Everyone who knows how to break things and make it difficult for Bahamians (without making it so obvious) are put in place. What else to expect when only party supporters are constantly the choices (over qualified quality people) to direct public agencies. These favoring few are placed in every agency, every position everywhere and kept in place under every administration. Sure they shuffled these people around, but it’s the same troublesome trouble makers everywhere, everytime, every admin, breaking everything for everyone. So what other outcome should we have expected, but this, no better, but this. Mission nearly accomplished!

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Clamshell 1 year ago

In an article just 3 months ago, alleged reporter Neil Hartnell quoted Franklyn Wilson as claiming he had spent $100 million on his development(s) on Eleuthera, and that Tiger Woods was a partner in one of them.

If Neil Hartnell had spent even 5 minutes checking the veracity of those claims, he would have known he was being lied to, and in return lying to The Tribune’s readers.

Franklyn (Frank-lyin’) Wilson has indeed collected a great deal of money from OUTSIDE INVESTORS for that project, all of which has disappeared. Question: How do you spend $100 million on Eleuthera and have NOTHING to show for it? Can you answer that, Mr. Hartnell?

As for Tiger Woods, his firm has been hired to design a “short-holes” pitch-and-putt golf course at one of Mr. Wilson’s phantom developments. Tiger Woods is NOT a partner in that development, he is a contractor who is performing a service for a fee.

Bad enough that Mr. Wilson continually lies ... it’s worse that Mr. Hartnell keep shilling for him without bothering to see if what he’s being told is anywhere near the truth. Neil Hartnell has never so much as taken a 20-minute flight over to Eleuthera to look into these matters for himself. Shameful! Fake news!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year ago

And every teacher at St. Andrew's School who had Snake's son (Franon) in their class will readily tell you the 'poor' boy lent new meaning to the expression "as thick as they come". LMAO

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