By Dana Malcolm
#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.
CANARI outlines climate priorities ahead of Cop28
The Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI) informed that the Caribbean Climate Justice Alliance, in preparation for the upcoming annual COP28 in 2023, launched its “Caribbean Climate Justice and Resilience Agenda,” outlining the priorities for climate justice and resilience in vulnerable Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS).
In a press release, CANARI highlighted that the agenda recognizes the major threat of climate change to the region as well as aims to louden the voices of the at-risk groups “on the frontlines of the climate crisis and catalyze actions for climate justice and local resilience in the Caribbean SIDS.”
The priorities stated under the agenda are:
- Curbing emissions to limit global temperature
increase to 1.5 ̊C
- Scaling up locally-led solutions for adaptation and
loss and damage
- Improving access to and delivery of climate finance
for frontline communities, small and micro enterprises, and civil society organizations as part of a ‘whole of society’ approach
- Scaling up just, nature-based solutions for resilience
- Supporting a just transition for pro-poor, inclusive,
sustainable and resilient development
- Promoting gender equity and social inclusion
approaches to climate action
- Promoting youth and intergenerational equity as
core to the climate response
- Integrating a rights-based and earth-centered
approach in addressing all these priorities and ensuring climate justice
The at-risk groups referred to in the release include small-scale farmers and fisherfolk, rural women producers, income-poor people, elderly and disabled people, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, migrants, and LGBTQIA+ people.
Being cognizant of the severity of the effects of climate change on the Caribbean, CANARI referred to the fact that the very existence of the region is on the line.
“If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated and global temperature exceeds 1.5 ̊C, the impacts of rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, rainfall variability, ocean acidification, and other changes threaten the very existence of our way of life in the Caribbean and other SIDS that have contributed the least to global emissions.”
CARICOM Sec Gen speaks on Gender Based Violence
“Everyone must continue to invest in preventing violence against our women and girls (VAWG). It is an investment in our shared future,” were the words of Dr. Carla N. Barnett, CARICOM Secretary-General, as she reiterated the need for solutions against VAWG.
She called attention to VAWG as she gave a speech surrounding the annual campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” which runs from November 25 to December 10, 2023.
Barnett expresses the well-known fact that VAWG is one of the most prevalent issues affecting all corners of society.
“VAWG remains one of the most pervasive forms of human rights violations in the world and cuts across all races, cultures, genders, and educational backgrounds,” she maintained, as she continued to point out the sad reality that this is still a major issue despite regional and global policies.
“Despite the existence of regional and global policies and legislation to combat VAWG, weak enforcement and discriminatory practices remain significant barriers to ending VAWG.”
The Secretary-General highlighted statistics for VAWG, bringing attention to how serious and embedded this issue is in society.
She said that globally, 736 million women—nearly one in three—have experienced violence—physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or even both.
For the Caribbean region, she said surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019 inform us that one in two women experience intimate partner violence, which is higher than the global average.
In continuation, Barnett expressed that the campaign calls everyone to action against VAWG, including “development partners, civil society organizations, women’s organizations, youth, the private sector, and the media.” Also, world governments are being asked to share how they are investing in gender-based violence prevention.
Ending her address, the Secretary-General urged everyone to wear the color orange for the duration of the campaign, as well as on the 25th of each month, “as a symbol of hope for a brighter future where women and girls live free from violence.”
Sea Patrol Vessels Approved by Cabinet, October 11 Meeting
#TurksandCaicos, November 25, 2023 – Her Excellency the Governor, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, chaired the 26th meeting of Cabinet on Wednesday, 11 October 2023 at the Governor’s Office, Providenciales.
All Members were present except the Hon. Josephine Connolly.
- Approved the Consultation Report on the Proposed Amendments to the Turks and Caicos Islands Immigration Ordinance with amendments and agreed for the amended document to be brought back to Cabinet for final approval for onward submission to the House of Assembly.
- Approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) and Geta Crew Holding Ltd. for a mixed use development project on the island of Grand Turk, with the view of entering into a Development Agreement as per the Encouragement of Development Ordinance and the National Investment Policy.
- Approved the renewal of rental lease agreement, for various Government offices, between TCIG and Waterloo Property Management, Grand Turk.
- Approved the awarding of the following contracts:
- PN 005694, TR 23/13, Furniture and Equipment for NJS Francis Building; and
- PN 005696, TR 22/10, Purchase of Patrol Vessels.
- It noted the update from Her Excellency the Governor regarding the upcoming visit of UK Ministers to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
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