Turks and Caicos Residents Reject FortisTCI Statement on High Electricity Bills
By Deandrea Hamilton
#TurksandCaicos, July 5, 2022 – “The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict continues to affect the supply and cost of fuel worldwide, and significant increases in fuel prices are expected to continue in the upcoming months. This translates into higher electricity bills.
We empathize with the challenges customers are facing due to higher electricity bills at this time. While the cost of fuel is beyond our control, we want to help ease the burden as much as possible. We remain committed to keeping customers informed about these global trends.”
FortisTCI on Friday issued a statement, contained within were these words meant to explain that the war in Ukraine, though far flung from these tiny islands and cays, continues to have disastrous trickle down impact including driving up the cost of oil.
Residents however, responded in public forums and to Magnetic Media that while they anticipated the fuel factor rate on their electricity bills would have been higher, they are stumped about why their consumption rose by hundreds of kilowatt hours.
“My usage has gone up 538 kWh when every day is the same in my house. Been working from home and homeschooling since March 2020 and this is the highest bill I’ve had in the 10 years I’ve lived in my home,” said one Providenciales customer.
Many shared similar accounts; firm on the point that habitually, nothing had changed and they believe FortisTCI is either taking advantage of the oil crises to boost its bottom line or that the system of the energy provider has experienced a glitch.
“Every light in my house in on a timer. I have switched from central Ac to split units and I only use one of them every day. FortisTCI has a problem and they need to hurry up and send their “our bad” email because these bill can’t be real.”
Across the nation, there are questions about the consumption hours, which have rocketed. We did enquire of FortisTCI about that fact at the onset; and upon receiving their statement which still does not address that particular issue, we have asked again.
There has been no response to date.
Meanwhile, we are receiving many angry reports. One woman said, even at her highest ever consumption, her bill came in under the current bill which for her and her young son is $1,200. No one is home all day. I am not doing anything differently. She calls herself a creature of habit. And hers is a common refrain. Another family said, when they noticed the trend for higher electricity bills in April, they made the switch from an electric to gas stove. Their bill nearly tripled despite; also a common claim that even behaviours to scale back have worked expensively in the reverse.
“Due to fuel price increases in the month of May, the fuel factor for Grand Turk and Salt Cay customers increased from $0.1672 to $0.2053, and from $0.1962 to $0.2405 for Providenciales, North and Middle Caicos customers, respectively. These represent an increase of 23%, which are reflected on June electricity bills. For example, if the fuel factor on May’s bill was $100, this would change to $123 on June’s bill, provided that the customer’s consumption remained the same month over month.
The fuel factor rate for customers on South Caicos was $0.2299 in May and an increase in the rate is also expected. The fuel factor rate is calculated monthly as outlined in the Electricity Ordinance. As FortisTCI is a regulated electricity company, the fuel factor rate is sent to the TCI Government’s Energy and Utilities Commissioners Office each month for authentication,” explained FortisTCI.
In another instance, a unit was empty all of June, but said the customer – the consumption was three times more. How, she asked?
There are at least two government agencies which can investigate; they sit under two government ministries. The Consumer Protection Department which falls under E Jay Saunders and the Ministry of Finance and the Energy and Utilities Commissioner, who falls within the ministry of Home Affairs, where Otis Morris is the cabinet minister.
Fortis makes a promise about the unexpected and exorbitant bills…
“The following measures are now in effect:
No penalties on late payments during the months of July and August 2022. No disconnections for balances less than 60 days overdue from July to August 2022. Payment plans on a case-by-case basis.
To further assist customers, FortisTCI will launch a series of interactive online educational sessions on how to manage energy use.
We encourage customers to keep track of their electricity use by signing up for My Online Account. Visit www.fortistci.com to register. My Online Account allows customers to set budget limits on their electricity usage and receive alerts when their consumption limit is approaching.”
FortisTCI said sadly the trend, according to their supplier, will not change when it comes to the historically high fuel costs and the company pointed to alternative energy as a way out.
“We believe that renewable energy is a pathway to lower energy costs and we are working with TCI Government to implement supportive regulations. As your partner in energy, we will continue to expand our renewable energy programs and reduce our dependence on diesel fuel.”
Residents, were advised that to be announced are dates for online energy use educational sessions.
Statement on Incident Involving Visitor on 2nd October 2022
#TurksandCaicos, October 4, 2022 – The Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) regrets the unfortunate incident involving the death of a visitor to our islands on 2nd October 2022. The incident which occurred was accidental and not one in which the victim was targeted. While the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police force (RTCIPF) continues their investigations, we wish to reassure the public (citizens, residents, and visitors alike) that the safety and security of all, is our top priority.
The TCI has long established itself as a safe destination for visitors from around the world. Evidence of this can be seen in the countless awards the destination has won, most recently at the World Travel Awards. Our commitment to providing safety to residents and visitors is unwavering. The government will continue to work with local authorities including the RTCIPF and our partners in the international community to protect residents and visitors alike.
The incident which occurred on the date mentioned above is one that is rare and does not reflect who we are as a people. On behalf of the government and people of these islands, we extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim.
As this matter is now an on-going police investigation, further statements will be referred to RTCIPF.
The TCI remains a safe destination and the government is working assiduously for it to remain as such.
Brave presentation in defence of Bahamas’ financial services reputation by PM Davis
By Sherrica Thompson
#TheBahamas, October 1, 2022 – Prime Minister of the Bahamas Phillip ‘Brave’ Davis is again calling for equality in the financial services sector and for the United Nations to leverage its universal jurisdiction for greater oversight of global anti-money laundering de-risking and tax cooperation matters.
In addressing the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, September 24, Prime Minister Davis said the Bahamas is one of the best-regulated countries in the world, yet it has been under attack by international bodies and placed on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) blacklist while transgressions in the developed world are ignored.
He questioned why this was the case and highlighted some disparities in the financial sector.
“Why is it that European states that operate frameworks akin to that of high-risk or blacklisted countries, are not even eligible for inclusion on these lists? Why are all the countries targeted – all of them – small and vulnerable, and former colonies of European states? We find it astounding that the $2-$3 trillion dollars which is estimated to be laundered each year through the developed countries, are never flagged as causes for concern,” articulated Phillip Davis, addressing the 77th session in New York.
Prime Minister Davis further noted that there are elements of racism in the decision-making when it comes to regulating black-governed countries in the financial services sector. He also declared that black-governed countries matter as well.
And yet my country, which is widely recognized as one of the best-regulated countries in the world, and other countries like The Bahamas, are singled-out for such reputational attacks? The robust regulatory regimes of our Central Bank, Securities Commission, and Insurance Commission, are chastised on minor details of technical process, while much bigger transgressions in the developed world are ignored.
The evidence is mounting, that the considerations behind these decisions have less to do with compliance, and more to do with darker issues of pre-judged, discriminatory perceptions. Black-governed countries also matter.”
Davis also highlighted the need for reforms that apply to all in the global financial system.
“Mr. President: We support the call for reforms in the global financial system to make it more relevant to the needs of today. But those reforms need ambition. They need to go beyond the incremental. And they need to apply to all. For example, the community of international financial institutions are in a position to forgive the debt incurred by the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. They should do so.”
Will US President Biden deliver on Climate Change funding?
By Dana Malcolm
#USA, October 1, 2022 – US President Joe Biden has reiterated his promise that low income countries, which are also low carbon emitters will receive increased climate aid from the US to the tune of $11 billion per year.
The President was speaking at the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly recently where he maintained his administration was working with Congress to get the funds which would ‘help lower-income countries implement their climate goals and ensure a just energy transition.’
The plan was announced in September 2021 and is a reflection of the USA’s part in the 2010 global pledge made by developed countries to give $100 billion annually in climate financing to developing nations each year. Biden has indicated that the plan will be in effect by 2024.
While he stressed at the UN that the need is ‘enormous’ the President is having trouble convincing lawmakers at home. So far the funding which must be approved by Congress has not materialized. The United States Congress is known for having a particularly tight hold on the national purse in regards to climate change funding.
In fact congress dedicated only a little over $1 billion to climate change this year according to Bloomberg. The US also has a history of promising funding for climate change but not delivering on those high priced promises.
Whether this $11 billion will actually get to nations like those in the Caribbean region is yet to be seen.
This year, the General Assembly heard from 190 speakers, including 76 Heads of State, 50 Heads of Government, four Vice-Presidents, five Deputy Prime Ministers, 48 Ministers and seven Heads of Delegations according to General Assembly President Csaba Kőrösi as he summed up the first in-person General Debate since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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