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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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Health

Woman dies on Tuesday; 32nd Covid Death for Turks & Caicos

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – The Turks and Caicos has recorded its 32nd death related to COVID-19.

A Ministry of Health press release informed that the individual who was in quarantine in Grand Turk and requested emergency aid on Tuesday; response came from the public health team in Grand Turk.

The person, who we are told is a special needs young woman – was unvaccinated and had underlying medical conditions.

The death rate in the Turks and Caicos of both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons has climbed alarmingly this year.  In the 21-month period from March 2020 when the country recorded its first case to December 2021, there were 26 deaths recorded in the TCI.

In the 19 days since the start of 2022 that number has increased to 32; which means six deaths already in January.

 

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Bahamas News

Cruising should slow down says PAHO

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

‘Slow down on Cruising’, that’s the word from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO in their latest recent press conference.

Dr. Ciro Ugarte Director of Health Emergencies at the PAHO was referring to the Bahamas but made sure to note that the advice was highly relevant to many countries in the times of omicron.

“In the context of intense transmission, due to the Omicron variant as we have highlighted several times. It is just logical to suspend or at least limit the cruise ship traffic as an outbreak on board might end up exceedingly high and probably will go beyond the capacity of local health services”

Both the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos are experiencing a massive uptick in cases and several warnings regarding cruise travel have been issued by the US Centers for Disease Control.

Cruising just resumed for many regional countries this past Summer, Turks and Caicos was among the latest to restart on December 13.

A stop to sailing would be devastating to economies, however, ports of call like Grand Turk which are reeling with rocketing case numbers of COVID are urged to consider the suggestion of slowing down on ships by PAHO.

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Caribbean News

Understanding Sargassum with help from the TCI’s Department of Environment & Coastal Resources  

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By Sherrica Thompson

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 20, 2022 – Sargassum, also known as seaweed, is a natural brown macroalga that lives in temperate and tropical oceans of the world. The floating micro eco-system is important to many species, including baby turtles, little crabs, and tiny fish. All these animals use the floating rafts of the sargassum for protection, shelter, and food.

Over the years, sargassum has been increasing its quantity in the Caribbean due to climate change. As water temperatures increase, sargassum blooms, and as this continues, it occurs in large amounts. This can be dangerous for some marine life because when seaweed washes up on the shore, some species become trapped in the sargassum mat.

Environmental Outreach Coordinator at the Department of Environmental and Coastal Resources for TCI, Amy Avenant, says the Turks and Caicos Islands has not seen the worst of the overgrowth.

“In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we have not seen the full severity of sargassum blooms. Our neighbours in Bonaire, for example, experience up to six feet of sargassum, and they have found stranded dolphins, sea turtles, and sometimes even birds,” said Amy Avenant.

“When the sargassum washes up on shore, it starts to decompose, and when it decomposes, it emits methane, and that is the stinky sulfuric eggy smell that you can smell when you walk past it on the beach. It is a bad thing for climate change because of the methane, but it is not harmful to your health.”

Turks and Caicos saw this in extreme amounts in October; so severe, resorts were forced to bag and bury the stinky seaweed which for over a week covered the usually sandy white stretch of Grace Bay beach.

Avenant noted that in the TCI, we have a balance between managing the influx of sargassum and impacting the areas where it lands because its influx is correlated to the cycles of the moon.

She also said sargassum can be used as a fertilizer in farming. If you collect it, the advice is to spread it out and ensure you wash the excess salt off before adding to your gardens or farms.

There are also hidden dangers and habitat threats to the piles of sargassum on shorelines.

Avenant informed, when you see sargassum on the beach, ensure you watch out for wildlife that might be stuck and species which might have made a home of the ocean’s deposit which has washed up, this is heightened on rocky shores.

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