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FortisTCI announces bid to hike electricity bills, cites record $42m response to hurricanes as destabilizing

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#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – Wednesday July 11, 2018 – Lingering adversity caused by the catastrophic 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season will likely result in an increase in electricity bills for Turks and Caicos consumers; FortisTCI CEO and President today announced that an application requesting the rise has been filed with Government.

Approval will result in an immediate change in power bills.

“Today FortisTCI filed a rate variation application under Section 34 of the Electricity Ordinance.  The application proposes an average rate of 6.8 percent increase.  Residential customers with an average monthly consumption of 500 k/w hours would see an increase of approximately $8 per month on their electricity bills,” said Eddinton Powell, FortisTCI CEO.  

Ten months following the double whammy of Hurricanes Irma and Maria – two of the costliest and deadliest storms of 2017 – the Turks and Caicos is still reeling from the effects of the major hurricanes and it may mean a 6.8% hike in power bills.  The request has to first be approved.

“The application seeks to restore the company’s financial position which was weakened by the cost of restoration of electricity following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.  The total impact directly attributable to the hurricanes is $42 million.”

Record response to the nationwide loss of electricity in Category 5 hurricane Irma alone was expensive explained Powell when media quizzed him about the need for the hike and how long the increase would be imposed upon consumers.  Mr. Powell assured, FortisTCI was not trying to recapture earnings lost during the recovery period.

“…It’s not just to recover per say the cost of electricity which we expect to recover over a long period of time, we don’t want to increase the rate to a certain extent where we percent to our customers a rate shock that would be too expensive, we want to gradually increase… to restore the company to a sound financial position.”

Eddinton Powell, CEO & President, FortisTCI

Mr. Powell said the company has made a case for the increase request, permitted by law and expects incremental recuperation.  Mr. Powell corrected public assumption that FortisInc paid for the restoration; explaining that FortisTCI covered the cost in full.

“We had to pay and we had to borrow the money, finance that restoration and the restoration is paid for – past tense – paid for in full.  Now, what we are trying to do with this application is to restore the company to strong financial health,” explained Mr. Powell in that media debriefing today.  The CEO agreed that the hurricanes weakened the company’s financial soundness, “…the cost of the restoration, the loss revenues, the write off of assets all of those things contributed to the weakening of the company’s financial position.”

The CEO, flanked by company executives at FortisTCI Leeward Highway headquarters added that there is going to be opportunity for residents to learn more and vocalise their thoughts about the application for the increase.  Mr. Powell shared that initiatives of FortisTCI will eventually result in lower power bills.

“Through more solar penetration in the system, through the possibility, the very good possibility of liquefied natural gas (LNG), that is the increase of fuel mix on the system away from diesel more towards LNG, more towards solar energy.  I am convinced that all of those things if managed properly and executed properly by the Government and the company can result in the future in lower energy costs to the Turks and Caicos which we have an interest in doing.”

The goal of FortisTCI, shared the CEO, is to return to a stable financial position.  Mr. Powell characterized their request as both ‘reasonable and warranted’.

Once approved, the electricity rate increase  will take immediate effect.

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Caribbean News

TCI Tourist Board – Represented at New York Travel & Adventure Show

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Manhattan, New York (Friday, February 3, 2023) – The Turks and Caicos Islands recently participated in the successful New York Travel & Adventure Show held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, New York from Saturday, January 28th – Sunday, January 29th. The event was New York’s largest travel gathering since 2019, providing the perfect platform to showcase the Turks and Caicos Islands and its unique luxury offerings as a multi-island destination. This was part of a larger effort by the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board to showcase the destination at several major travel shows in the United States.

Mary Lightbourne, the Acting Director of Tourism, and Gabriel Saunders, the Senior Public Relations Officer, proudly represented the Turks and Caicos Islands at the event and emphasized its status as a premium travel destination. During the event, they engaged with travel enthusiasts, media outlets, influencers, and more to further increase visibility about the World’s Top Trending Travel Destination for Fall 2022. Visitors at the booth were given informational brochures on the destination and treated to a tasting of Bambarra rum, as well as Bambarra rum cakes. As a special souvenir, they were also gifted Beach Buddies keychains, designed as queen conch shells, spiny lobsters, Turks Head cacti, flamingos, and pelicans – symbolizing the coat of arms of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

“The New York Travel & Adventure Show was an ideal platform to facilitate us bringing the stunning beauty and diverse offerings of the Turks and Caicos Islands to a massive audience of travel enthusiasts”, stated Mary Lightbourne. “Through this opportunity, we were able to foster valuable connections with key industry leaders and share our islands’ captivating allure with travel lovers in a significant source market”, added Lightbourne.

Attendees had the chance to interact with the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board’s representatives and learn about the destination’s diverse offerings, including world-class beaches, turquoise waters, luxury resorts, and vibrant culture.

“We were honoured to showcase the distinctive character of our destination and provide attendees with a taste of the local flavours and products that make our tourism product truly remarkable,” said Gabriel Saunders. “The Turks and Caicos Islands offers an unparalleled travel experience and we were grateful for the opportunity to inspire more people to come discover its beauty” added Saunders.

The New York Travel & Adventure Show was a two-day event that brought together top travel experts, destinations, and cultural attractions from around the world to provide inspiration and information to travel enthusiasts. The Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board also represented the destination at the recent Chicago Travel & Adventure Show and will be an exhibitor at the upcoming Atlanta Travel & Adventure Show and the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show.

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Caribbean News

The Idea that became an Iconic Event for Providenciales, Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 2, 2023 – An idea executed to perfection with the help of the entire Turks and Caicos community, that’s Island Fish Fry.  Born 10 years ago, in January 2013, it was a partnership between the Government, Private institutions, vendors and supporters all working together to make develop an authentic TCI experience; today it is an indisputable success.

Since its inception, Island Fish Fry has become a staple of the TCI community.   It’s where you can get your T-shirts to Lobster Mac and Cheese, a taste of Monkey Bag rum or TCI brewed beer, natural coconut water in branded coconut mugs, the oceanic beauty captured in charms and household items or glittering handmade bangles with entrepreneurs and crafters clamouring for their space at the ‘Fry’.

We spoke to several people who told us about the history of the event and what they love most about the evolution and realization of Island Fish Fry Ralph Higgs, Former TCI Tourist Board Director under whose direction the event was conceptualised recalled its beginnings.

“I do remember my first Fish Fry, it was the 29th of January 2013— It came as a result of many of our local businesses, mainly restaurants and other businesses featured at the fish fry saying ‘we don’t have an avenue or an outlet where tourists can come and try our products’.  Hence the idea of a weekly fish fry where tourists can come and try our products, try the cuisine, see the art and craft and then go on to enjoy it.”

Higgs says the event is a source of pride especially considering its capacity to nurture the arts in young Turks and Caicos Islanders

“Well I feel proud of the event but more so many of our local businesses and artisans that have found themselves at fish fry,” he used Wellington Williams, one of the country’s most prolific jewellery makers, as an example, “I remember him as a little boy trying to find his way in that business and he approached us at the Tourist Board for space at the Fish Fry and we were delighted to have him display his art. I think the rest is history. He is a success story by every definition and there are many others who have been able to find their footing because of the event.”

In a decade, the well-loved event has not faltered, only inclement weather and the Covid-19 pandemic have the reputation of putting the brakes on the outdoor festivity which features live music, community dancers, on the grill cooking and picnic styled eating.  Yet, even those challenges were overcome.

In 2021, Josephine Connolly became the country’s newest Minister of Tourism and in our chat with her about Island Fish Fry, Connolly described her elation when she was able to lead a team into resuming the event, finally.

“Fish Fry belongs to the people of this country— We made a concerted effort to make sure that a sense of normalcy returned to the people of this country, our tourist arrivals [had] continued to increase during COVID therefore we had to continue with the fish fry to ensure that our guests received their TCI flavour though it.  I am elated that Fish Fry returned and the entire Turks and Caicos and our guests are elated.”

Higgs praised the continuity of the event highlighting the vendors, musicians, entertainers, crafters, officials and others who have persevered to ensure there was a rich range of Turks and Caicos creativity and culinary skill on display week after week.

“There were many who came and showed support and many of them are still at the fish fry playing music, selling their goods and services and I’m so proud of all of them.”

Island Fish Fry celebrated its ten year anniversary on Thursday January 26th 2023.

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Bahamas News

Consumer protection, 85 businesses to be put under watch 

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer

 

 

February 2, 2023 – Grocery stores and dozens of other businesses will be under the microscope soon as the government begins aggressively enforcing the Consumer Protection Ordinance passed back in 2016 with an all-new Compliance and Regulatory Enforcement (C.A.R.E) Drive.

Carried out by the Department of Trade, Industry, and Fair Competition the drive aims to “actively educate providers whilst enforcing the main provisions to protect consumers under the Consumer Protection Ordinance,” a press release explained.

Firstly, Consumer Officers charged with protecting the people of the TCI from unfair business practices will be assessing the prices of selected breadbasket items in 23 different stores countrywide each month to see whether price gouging is being carried out by businesses.

Breadbasket items are currently duty-free under the Food and Fuel Tax Break until the end of the financial year in March and all savings from those tax exemptions should be passed on directly to the consumer. After each assessment, which will continue for several months at least a monthly price report will be published on the Department of Trade’s website.

In addition, the Consumer Officers will be monitoring other business activities across the country “to ensure that providers are compliant with their duties to consumers.”

Those responsibilities include:

  • Giving customers certain basic information about goods and services being sold;
  •  Informing consumers about terms and conditions before any payment is made (e.g., warranties, refunds, returns, exchanges, etc.) and;
  • Abstaining from misleading and deceptive conduct, false representation and unfair business practices.

The government says they will reach at least 85 businesses with the C.A.R.E. Drive but they did not indicate the process behind how these businesses had been singled out. Non-compliant ones will be fined after a thorough investigation and warnings are issued by the Department of Trade.

With this in mind, business owners are being encouraged to familiarize themselves with their duties under the Ordinance lest they be caught in breach. The government did not say what entities would be assessed and whether that included major retail grocery stores, gasoline dealers, water companies, electricity providers, telecommunications companies and other essential providers of the services that all islanders spend on.

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