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Columns : Who is in control? - Joseph Darville Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM

The impact of power bills on our quality of life
By Joseph Darville
Sep 2, 2009 - 2:09:04 PM

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The morning of August 20th we read in a local newspaper with keen interest the statement from the Grand Bahama Power Company in response to the widespread complaints from residents and businesses concerning the astronomical cost of electricity  as well as the numerous disconnections which have been taking place in recent weeks.  Unfortunately, there was not an iota of comfort to be garnered from the statement.  The uncertainly, the misery, the enormously high bills and the many questions remain in limbo.   

We need to know why a single mother, living in a trailer house with one young child, without air condition or electric stove, could be burdened with a monthly power bill of over $600.00.  Why within hours after another’s meter has been read, the power is turned off with an outstanding bill of only $60.00.  Is it that insensitive on the part of the Power Company that it would carry out disconnections on the weekend when individuals, even if they were able to scrape up a few dollars, cannot have the power back on before Monday?  

We need to know why upon some disconnections now, individuals have to come up with a five hundred dollar deposit in order to continue to have service.  What happens to these funds? Are they invested and the individuals can benefit from interests and dividends?

Is it correct that the CEO of the company has stated that if large companies, saddled with inordinate bills, decide to generate their own power, that the Power Company will levy additional charges on the regular citizenry in order to compensate the Company?  By the way, this action has already been taken by one large company, employing more people that the Power Company.  It generates its own power in order to be able to pay staff; and it does so at one third of what the Power Company would charge. 

In short order, there will be thousands of portable generators buzzing across this land in order for us to supply the basic needs of our children.

Grand Bahama is fortunate enough to have a host of representatives in Parliament, including FNM’s and PLP’s.  However, to date not one has spoken out in any manner to address the plight of the poor people on this island.  

We understand that the Power Company has to make money; we also realize that there are individuals who do not live up to their responsibility and contract to pay bills on time.  However, there are numerous instances where some households have absolutely no way to deal with all the financial demands in order to survive with dignity today on this island.  In such cases, extraordinary measures and special compassion must afforded them.  As we endure a multitude of black-outs and brown-outs with not even an apology (usually just a statement of reason) from the company, we could be afforded some compensation with respect special consideration for the sick, disabled and destitute poor on this island. 

The Power Company has a monopoly to supply power on this island.  It is obviously doing so without any governmental regulations with respect to costs to the people.  This is a sad reflection on this sovereign nation where the people should have a voice in these critical matters which directly affect their dignity of life.  Power, like food, water and fresh air, has become an essential element and expected right of the  people.  Otherwise, tell us to get back to old days of kerosene lamps and wood burning stoves. 

This company, which undoubtedly subsidizes its parent company and others where regulations are in place and enormous profits are prohibited, will continue to bleed our citizens and leave them in the dark until we agitate for and attain the proper regulatory  body to oversee its operations and those of other such entities in our nation. 

We call on our government officials  and Parliament to immediately respond to this yet another crisis brought upon the people of Grand Bahama; it is a power keg ready to be ignited and will only take a errant spark from Power Company to set it off.  

Joseph Darville

VP Grand Bahama Human Rights Association

About the Author: Mr. Joseph Darville is a native of Long Island, Bahamas and a resident of Freeport, Grand Bahama.  

·           Teacher [English, French] at St. Augustine’s College in Nassau.  

·           Teacher [French] Senior School Coordinator and Guidance Counselor a Queen’s College in Nassau.     

·           Past Vice-President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers  

·           He is a founding member and past President of the Bahamas Counselor’s   Association  

·           Past President of the Grand Bahama Mental Health Association  

·           Past Vice President of the Caribbean Federation of Mental Health  

·           Founding member and Chairman of Operation Hope, [volunteer drug prevention, education & rehabilitation program]  

·           Co-Chairman of the Bahamas National Drug Council  

·           Founding member and Past -President of Grand Bahama Human Rights Association  

·           Founding member of the Caribbean Human Rights Network  

·           Administrative Vice-President of the Freeport YMCA for three years  

He is an Advanced Master/Teacher in Reiki training, a natural energy healing method, as well as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation.   Presently, he is Director of Workforce Development at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. He has received many awards for outstanding service and achievement in teaching, communication,  and citizenship.  

Joseph can be reached at jdarville2002@yahoo.com

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