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FortisTCI contemplates next move; Industry Hikes not unusual

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Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 7, 2024 – Following the reveal of March 2024 bills several customers across the Turks and Caicos are complaining that their electricity payments are much higher than usual citing increases of up to $100 however, FortisTCI the country’s electricity provider says it has no knowledge or complaints of any such hikes.

“My light bill is almost $100” said one resident.

When we shared the concerns with Fortis they said, “FortisTCI has not received any concerns or queries from customers regarding an unusual change in their electricity bills. The fuel factor rate for the month of March has decreased by up to 10% across service territories and the electric rate is fixed and has not changed. Hence, any unusual increase in an electricity bill would likely be attributed to changes in energy usage.”

This comes on the heels of a refusal by the Government to grant FortisTCI a six percent rate increase over the weekend.

Fortis revealed that even if it had been granted, bills would have increased only  $2 to $15. Fortis still has the opportunity to be awarded that increase if it calls on its right to have an Independent Arbiter assess the increase based on statements from the company, it is likely that that course of action will be utilized.

”The Company maintains that the proposed revised electric rates are necessary and warranted. FortisTCI is currently reviewing this latest development within the provisions of the rate review process and will provide further information to customers in due course. The Company remains committed to delivering safe, reliable, and least-cost electricity to its customers.  FortisTCI is available to answer any questions customers may have on their electricity rates,” the company emphasized.

The company explained how a rate increase would be distributed if approval is granted by the arbiter. As usual, the more electricity a household consumes the more they will pay, and the more the increase will affect them. The dollar difference also varies slightly by island.

In Providenciales customers using between 100 to 300 kWh of power currently pay between $48 to $145 for their electricity. Fortis says this would increase between $2 to $5 per month, new total bill of $50-$149 every month.

Customers using between 500 to 700 kWh would see an increase of $8  to $11 per month on their bills leaving them with new total bills of $257 to $359 per month. Anyone using more than 900 kWh would see a $14 per month increase, leading to a final electricity bill of about $462.

The same was explained for North and Middle Caicos whereas Grand Turk and Salt Cay, whose residents already pay higher bills would see raises of between $2 to $5 per month for customers on the lowest rung leading to bills of between $51 and $153 per month or an increases between $8 to $12 for customers on the middle rung leading to bills between $264 and $370 per month.

Anyone over 900 kWh would see the full $15 increase.

These rates could also go up and down, depending on the expense of fuel, which determines the rate of the fuel factor, making electricity cheaper or more expensive, on a monthly basis.

As for why the electricity company says it needs the increase:

“The rising demand requires expansion to the electricity system to ensure continued reliable service to our customers. This, together with high inflation and rising interest costs, are the primary reasons for the electricity rates review,” it maintained.

The Government refused an increase on March 29 following weeks of firm rhetoric regarding the need for better regulation of utility providers as the country expands. Kyle Knowles, the newly appointed Minister of Public Safety and Utilities has announced an immediate consultation regarding a new draft policy to provide said regulation.

If the arbiter overturns the government’s refusal and the increase is granted, the Turks and Caicos will be joining a trend that the rest of the world is already experiencing. An article from Yahoo! finance published on February 18 just after the application was made maintained that while overall energy has been on a downward spiral, electricity prices remain stubbornly high in the United States. The reason given was similar to FortisTCI’s argument.

“Infrastructure costs have kept utilities from cutting prices. The industry is estimated to spend more than $100 billion annually to maintain aging grids and invest in renewable technologies,” Ines Ferre, Senior Business Reporter said.

In 2023 Jamaicans saw an average 1.6% increase in their electricity bills following tariff adjustments. Closer, in The Bahamas, a 2023 report from CARILEC revealed that at $.36 per kilowatt hour the country had some of the highest electricity rates.

As for the Turks and Caicos Islands, home to around 45,000 people, Minister Knowles maintained that,

“The envisaged regulatory reforms will not only address the concerns highlighted by the applications from FortisTCI and the operational challenges faced by Provo Water Company but also lay the groundwork for a sustainable utility infrastructure that can accommodate the future growth of our islands.”

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Traffic Death again, a woman dies and two others hospitalised

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#TurksandCaicos, June 23, 2024 – Magnetic Media can inform that, yes there has been another traffic death in Providenciales and reports say it’s a woman who didn’t make it out of a three car smash up.

Almost, exactly 24 hours after a deadly collision was recorded in wee hours of Saturday morning came news, this morning, of a second death by motor vehicle accident.

“I can confirm the Police Control Room received a call during the early hours of this morning involving a serious accident on Leeward Highway. One person (female) died while others were rushed for medical treatment,” said Denyse Renne, media officer for the Royal TCI Police.

The Cheshire Hall Medical Center, which had already suspended visitation due to security concerns in the wake of four murders between Friday and Saturday in Provo, has restricted its Emergency Room to emergencies only.

TCI hospitals citing the unusually high demand for urgent medical care to multiple patients as the reason for the restriction.

While it is widely reported that the person who died in the traffic accident on Leeward Highway near Pratt’s Road is a female tourist, police say they’re investigating.

It’s been a total of six lives lost in startling incidents in the past day in Providenciales.  The tragic circumstances of the car accidents and sheer violence of the shootings have sent shockwaves throughout the country leaving residents utterly bewildered.

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Crime

Five Cays Shooting Death

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***MEDIA RELEASE***

June 22nd, 2024.

Homicide detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force are actively investigating a murder in Five Cays, Providenciales.

Initial reports indicate that shortly after midday, the Police Control Room received several calls stating that gunshots were being heard in the area of the Community Center.

RT&CIPF officers responded to the given location and found the lifeless body of a male with what appeared to be gunshot wounds about the body.

The RT&CIPF is asking anyone with information that may help in this investigation to contact the closest police station, 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 to provide any information anonymously.

Additionally, individuals are encouraged to download the Crime Stoppers P3 app to share information.

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Rescued

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Media Release

June 22nd, 2024.

 

Two occupants of an aircraft were rescued around 3:28 p.m. today (June 22) following an intensive sea search around Providenciales.

The occupants –two males- are currently receiving medical attention.

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force can confirm that shortly after midday, the Air Tower received a report regarding an aircraft landing on water (ditching) approximately 11 miles from Northwest Point, Providenciales.

The aircraft had departed from the United States and experienced engine failure.

Having received reports of the incident, a Strategic Coordinating Group with representation from the RT&CIPF, the TCI Civil Aviation Authority, the Airport Authority, the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies, and the Ministry of Health was activated to coordinate the search and rescue.

The group worked closely with partners from OpBat and received confirmation that a United States Coast Guard helicopter had successfully rescued the two persons after three hours.

The victims were brought ashore.

Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Mat Newton said, “I wish to express my profound gratitude and acknowledge the invaluable support of our national and international partners.

“This successful rescue operation is a testament to our collective strength and coordination. With the full support from our US partners and the local marine community, I extend my heartfelt thanks to our OpBat partners and the crew of the US Coastguard helicopter, as well as the Marine Branch of the RT&CIPF, the staff of the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources (DECR), the Department of Fisheries and Resources Management, Caribbean Cruisin, and vessels from the TCI Search and Rescue Association.

“We are now in the process of initiating an investigation into the accident in close liaison with the Civil Aviation Authority.”

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