Friday, April 27, 2018

242newsBahamas - Hot, In the Dark & Caught in the Middle (Weekly Highlights)

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Hot, In the Dark & Caught in the Middle


Dear Readers,

If you lived in Nassau for any period of time then you know that the summer months (which if you factor in global warming, will run from about April to October) is synonymous with more than just rising temperatures. For Nassuvians or more accurately for BEC Customers Summertime = Blackouts. 

With weeks to go before the official start of summer, the shenanigans have already started. Just this week productivity in Nassau was brought to a near grinding halt due to an islandwide blackout sparked by equipment failures at one of the company's generation and distribution plants. Coincidentally, this outage occurred as BPL's executives were at the time, in the middle of a press conference, announcing their plans to improve services across the country. BEC recently announced plans to automate certain functions as a means of cutting costs. (Remember this point, it will be a valuable piece of information later on in this article) This week's Nassau blackout sadly is nothing new, and what's even more distressing is that it is not just confined to Nassau. Although Nassau usually gets the most attention when things go wrong, customers in the family islands also suffer at the hands of BEC. In Abaco, power outages have lasted DAYS at a time interrupted only by load shedding schedules which give customers a few hours of electricity per day.

This has been going on for arguably the past 40 years without improvement. To be fair, in recent years BEC has gone through changes: In its name (its now officially called BPL - Bahamas Power & Light) and in its board (now led by Whitney Heastie). The company also recently severed ties with its former management company: Power Secure International. Despite having years of practice and multiple opportunities to get it right, the company has instead seemingly chosen to repeat the same mistakes over and over wasting millions of dollars in the process, in addition to inconveniencing THOUSANDS of customers and crippling our economy. 

So the question for me is why? Why in the era of renewable energy, and technology are we still relying on fossil fuels and temporary generators to supply customers with power? I have no real answer to that question BUT company officials have been saying for years that renewable energy is coming. Most recently the board approved plans for an LNG facility to improve generation although environmentalists have called even that step regressive calling instead for Solar as the better option. 

THE UNION

Another element at work in the BPL/Customer Dynamic is the union representing workers at the company. Over the years the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union has been extremely vocal on behalf of its members. They've argued for improved working conditions, fought allegations of impropriety, wrongful terminations the whole nine yards which is great, that's what they're supposed to do right? 

Sure, my question is though, do they also have the right to threaten customers with blackouts because they're unhappy with management. 

Remember those automation plans which I mentioned at the onset? BPL officials estimate that they can save up to 13 million dollars in operational costs while improving efficiency simply by implementing them over an 18 month period, and considering the huge legacy debt which the company has racked up over the past few decades that should be a good thing right? WRONG! Why? Because it will inevitably mean that jobs are lost. Quite unsurprisingly union executives saw this as an affront to them and immediately went on the defensive threatening a HOT DARK SUMMER. 

Now let me say for the record that I have no issues with unions or the work they on the part of their membership. In fact, I think unions do a relatively good job at keeping employers honest I do however believe that unions also allow less productive employees to skate by on the efforts of high performing workers. In relation to BPL however, I as a paying customer, REFUSE to be caught in the middle.

Again, I understand the union's position....they don't want their members out of work AND according to them they're being kept in the dark (pun intended) on the way forward at the company. It would appear that they found out about automation plans the way we all did...from local newscasts. But I found their response to be a little heavy-handed and was quite put off by the Union President's commentary. Why threaten bill paying customers? Who does that help? 


CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE

I sympathize with BPL employees I do, but quite honestly jobs in tons of different sectors are being threatened by technology and automation. That is the way of the world, it's not fair but it is the reality. That said, we the customers find ourselves caught in the middle of what could be a very messy battle that's just getting started. To put it in a colloquialism "I een into dat" I pay my bill each month IN FULL and DO NOT DESERVE to suffer in the heat and darkness because these two sides cannot get it together. What happens to people with young children who will be forced to endure the sweltering heat at night? What about the sick and shut in? What about BUSINESSES who lose thousands of dollars and hours of productivity? Who is thinking about US - The customer? These are all questions which I need the union to answer? Are you really prepared to hold the country hostage instead of attempting to hash things out like grownups! AND to BPL and its executives, WHY are this bad at communicating the way forward to your own employees? You are just as culpable! Why would you make that announcement to the media before sitting down with the union? Why has it taken so long for whatever plans exist to be made public?

Clearly, there are issues. REAL MAJOR ONES that need to be addressed but I repeat PAYING CUSTOMERS should not suffer. I work hard, as I am sure all of our readers do and I deserve for my power to stay on unless we're in the throws of a hurricane. And if the company responsible CANNOT DO WHAT IS NECESSARY TO KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (that includes dealing fairly with the union) NO ONE (including the union's leadership or members) should threaten me or anyone else with outages. Instead, they should all be working together in the public interest.



#242Editor
Minister Ferreira Announces Initiative to Ban Single-Use Plastics By 2020
In an effort to simultaneously address marine pollution and waste management, Minister of the Environment and Housing the Hon. Romauld S. Ferreira officially announced, on April 23, 2018, his Ministry's initiative to ban single-use plastics - such as shopping bags, food utensils, straws and styrofoam food containers - by 2020.
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The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) hosted a two-day celebratory event. Perhaps the most exciting aspect, was the thoughtful act of flying each of the Golden Knights in to witness in person, how their Olympic victory became the source of inspiration behind the beautification project. Read More
Successful GB firm seeking to franchise across Bahamas
Island Yogurt on Grand Bahama has seemingly defied the economic odds of Freeport's slowed economy, and now its owners are hoping to franchise the business in the big city, Nassau.
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Health Minister pledges to support re-examination of the salary scales of lab professionals
The Minister of Health Dr. the Hon. Duane Sands said he pledges to support a re-examination and increase in the salary scales for health professionals working in medical laboratory careers as part of a larger review across the health system with an eye to addressing health careers where the country is facing critical shortfalls in staffing and recruitment.  Read More
New Reverse Osmosis Plant for Western Water Users

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Government remains 'on message' with its commitments to the Bahamian people
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National Arts Festival Opens in New Providence
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...
After adjudication in New Providence, the festival will return to the Family Islands to review expansive creative talent there. Read MoreƂ 
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The BTC team and the students also planted a Sea Grape tree at the Lower Cay Primary School. iVolunteer Diane Lockhart, read the story, The Lorax to the entire school. The story details environmental issues and gives a challenge to children to "care a whole awful lot." 
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FOIA provides for autonomous
Information Commissioner/Freedom of Information Unit
The Bahamas' Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 2017, provides for the appointment of an Information Commissioner whose independence and sterling character will be crucial to the working of the regime, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said Monday (April 23, 2018).
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Since its inception, The Keep Grand Bahama Clean (KGBC) Committee, an initiative of The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited, has embarked on a mission to create cleaner, greener communities across the island of Grand Bahama. That mission has seen the committee dedicate itself to various efforts and projects from coastal awareness and clean-ups to, demolition of dilapidated buildings. 
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Upcoming Calendar
New Providence
  • April 28th, 2018 
    • Fidelity Bank - Women Only FREE Seminar 8:30am - 1:30pm at Baha Mar Convention Center
  • April 28th, 2018 
    • Blue Tie Shindig 6:30pm at Superclubs Breezes Ballroom
  • May 6th, 2018 
    • The Bahamas National Youth Choir presents: "This is My Story/This is My Song: Hymns Modern and Ancient" 7:00pm at Lutheran Church of Nassau, J F Kennedy Drive
Grand Bahama
  • April 28th, 2018
    • Da Local Fresh Market 9:00 am-1:00 pm at Rand Nature Centre
  • April 28th, 2018
    • Humane Society Grand Bahama Pub Quiz 6:00pm at Garden of the Groves
  • April 30th, 2018
    • Direct Assistance Grant Scheme sensitization workshop 9:00am - 4:0pm at Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce Office
  • May 3rd - 4th, 2018
    • 3rd Annual Global Unity Summit 8:00am - 8:30m at Pelican Bay Hotel
  • May 5th, 2018
    • Hope Society 2nd Annual Color Fun Walk and Grill Out 6:30am - 5:00pm at Taino Beach
  • May 7th, 2018
    • Freeport Players Guild Monthly Meeting 7:00pm at Regency Theatre
  • May 12th, 2018
    • Rotary Club 8th Annual Cigar Night 6:00pm at Grand Bahama Yacht Club
Family Islands
  • April 19th-28th, 2018
    • Abaco Anglers 48th Annual Fishing Tournament
For More Abaco Events click the photo below
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