Emera's Grand Bahama Power Company Reaches Out to the Disconnected Masses
K'jipuktuk (Halifax) – Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), the Emera-owned monopoly service provider to about 19,000 residents on the island of Grand Bahama, recently offered a “reconnection program” to its numerous disconnected customers. Disconnected customers whose power had been cut due to bills in arrears were invited to present themselves to the power company before April 10th, 2012. If they then paid for one month's average service, and accepted a three year repayment plan for bills in arrears, their power would be reconnected.
The initiative was not the result of Emera having gone through some radical shift in corporate consciousness, but was instead, quite simply, an election ploy by the outgoing Free Nation Movement (FNM) political party, meant to garner votes in the national May 7th elections in the Bahamas.
“It was an initiative during an election,” says Emera spokesperson Sasha Irving. “It wasn't the result of more or fewer disconnections in a period of time than any other period of time. The last time [the Bahamian government] did this program, they did it in an election as well. So it was just something amongst many other pieces or policies.”
Not so, says energy activist with Operation Justice for Grand Bahama, Troy Garvey. Garvey estimates that there are now “thousands and thousands” living without power on Grand Bahama, and that this is a direct result of Emera's purchase of controlling ownership of the GBPC in 2010, and the subsequent rise in rates.
“It was a political ploy,” says Garvey. “All it was was smoke and mirrors. The only good thing about this was that people's power was getting turned back on. But they still have those outstanding bills to pay.”
Spokesperson Irving was unable to provide the exact number of customers on Grand Bahama that Emera has disconnected since 2010, but noted that only 121 GBPC customers opted to take part in the reconnection program. In Garvey's estimation, that would still leave "thousands and thousands" in the dark.