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Electricity Bills nearly doubled as Fuel Factor Rate drives up bills

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 30, 2022 – An exponential rise in electricity costs is shocking Turks and Caicos residents who received their bills on Wednesday and because these bills are validated by the Energy and Utilities Commissioner before distribution, it means Government is aware of the increase which almost doubles power bills.

The warnings were issued earlier this year and now islanders are really feeling the blow.  Residents have shared their home energy bills with Magnetic Media with up to $ 200 and $ 300 jumps in cost and they are raising questions about these new bills and how they are tallied.

In several instances usage seems to be up nearly 200 kilowatt hours for a great deal of residents.  Just as concerning is the fact that the fuel factor is nearly as high as the actual electricity usage.  Several of the bills we saw showed the fuel factor charges nearly even with the actual usage, a double whammy if you will.

“The fuel factor rate (or power cost adjustment) is a mechanism used to recover the cost of fuel used to produce the electricity consumed by each customer.  It is calculated monthly, and is based on the fuel consumed for the specific period and determined by the actual price of fuel at the time it is purchased, from our supplier, Sun Oil Limited.” the Fortis TCI website explains.

Essentially this means your total bill is calculated by how much you have used and how much the fuel used to make your electricity costs.   A high fuel factor will put a heavy strain on pockets no matter how much residents conserve.

In March this year the government announced the Food and Fuel Tax break would be going to companies, who had the responsibility to share that with consumers.  Fortis TCI promised residents it would pass on the cut from the 2.5 percent Customs Processing Fee Break directly but said there was a possibility charges would still rise.

“Despite the TCI Government’s 2.5% reduction in the Customs Processing Fee (CPF) on imported products including fuel, electricity bills are likely to increase once oil prices continue to rise.  We believe it is important to share this information so you can prepare as much as possible.”  Fortis said.   “While the savings from the reduced CPF will be passed to customers, our fuel supplier, Sun Oil Ltd., has advised that fuel prices are projected to increase further over the next several months, which will cause an increase in the fuel factor.  This can outweigh the savings on your bill.”

By law FortisTCI is allowed to pass on that cost for fuel, whether that is an increase or a decrease, to consumers through the fuel factor, but that cost is not arbitrary, every month it is validated by the Office of the Energy and Utilities Commissioner to make sure the prices are accurate and fair to consumers.  This means the government is well aware of the rising costs consumers are facing.

FortisTCI had also promised to try to negotiate with Sun Oil for fuel at a reduced cost for more savings but it is unclear if the company, which is the nation’s power supplier was successful.   Regardless, as predicted the fuel factor has risen and the most FortisTCI says they or any consumer can do is conserve.  But with the fuel factor this high, and wages remaining stagnant, residents say there must be some kind of intervention.

Fortunately FortisTCI and residents are not the only ones with a stake in this.  The government, should they choose to, could give companies a greater reduction in the CPF which is currently a 5 percent tax down from 7.5 percent.

The government could also completely and temporarily discontinue its tax on fuel by the gallon.

FortisTCI has been contacted for a comment; the company informs it will issue a statement on the concerns today.

Caribbean News

Vessels sink with 900 barrels of fuel in Trinidad

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

#Trinidad, December 2, 2022 – The Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources in Trinidad reported on Wednesday that a ship carrying 900 barrels of diesel fuel had sunk in the Gulf of Paria. The six crew members on board were rescued and received medical assessment.

The statement revealed that the barge owned by Trinity Liftboat Services Limited was trying to demobilise Trinity Heritage Petroleum Company’s North Field when it capsized.

After receiving an SOS from a vessel in their North Field, Heritage sent out a response team. An investigation into the incident has started, however, the main focus is to redeem the barge without making any oil spills.

The owners of the sunken vessel said “there are no injuries recorded. (The vessel) now sits on the seafloor no longer posing a risk to any of Heritage Petroleum’s platforms or installations.” They said the captain made a good decision to abandon the ship so that the crew members could be rescued and transported back to base.

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Bahamas News

Digital coin created for Caribbean’s Dominica as island partners with Huobi

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By Shanieka Smith

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – The Commonwealth of Dominica has partnered with cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, to issue its own national cryptocurrencies, Dominica Coin (DMC), and Digital Identity Documents (DID), already reports indicate a surge for the Huobi token.

This new collaboration with Dominica will bring the Caribbean one step closer to being a global cryptocurrency exchange centre.  Huobi also announced its intention to move headquarters from Seychelles to the Caribbean.

It was explained, “The deal is noteworthy partly because of its connections to crypto billionaire Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain where the Caribbean island’s new token will initially reside.”

Dominica Coin (DMC) and digital identity documents (DID) will be issued by Huobi Prime via the TRON network (a project dedicated to building the infrastructure for a truly decentralized Internet); both will serve as credentials for the future metaverse platform based in Dominica. DIDs can be used for cryptocurrency Know Your Customer verification, applying for loans, and opening bank accounts on the island.

The DMC is not yet ready for launch, but The HT token is up 15% over the last 24 hours to $7.12. It’s up 40% over the past seven days.

As one of the first Caribbean islands to adopt the citizenship-by-investment policy, the Dominican government is seeking to delve into the metaverse and Web3 technology as a means to boost the country’s development.

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Bahamas News

Imminent Worldwide Measles Threat; 25 Million CHILDREN miss First Dose

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

December 2, 2022 – Forty million children are at risk of Measles as what the World Health Organization is describing as an “imminent threat” takes shape. A joint report between the WHO and the U.S. Centres for Disease Control revealed that a record number of children missed their measles dose with 25 million children missing their first dose and 14.7 million children missing their second dose in 2021 alone.

Nine million cases of measles were recorded last year, twenty-two countries experienced large and disruptive outbreaks and 128,000 deaths occurred, the report says.

“The paradox of the pandemic is that while vaccines against COVID-19 were developed in record time and deployed in the largest vaccination campaign in history, routine immunization programmes were badly disrupted, and millions of kids missed out on life-saving vaccinations against deadly diseases like measles,” said Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Measles is easily one of the most contagious viruses in the world and while many people think itchy spots when they think of the disease it can cause pneumonia, seizures and brain damage in about 30 percent of infected individuals.

Herd immunity will not work with this disease, say experts, unless 95 per cent of people or more are vaccinated; only 71 per cent of children in 2022 are fully vaccinated.

“Measles anywhere is a threat everywhere” the report said, emphasizing that no WHO region has achieved and sustained measles elimination.

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