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Fortis TCI applies for review of electricity rates

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CEO of Fortis TCI, Eddinton Powell
By Hayden Boyce SUN Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

Fortis TCI, formerly Provo Power Company (PPC), has applied to the Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) for a review of its electricity rates in this country.
A Government spokesman told The SUN that Fortis made a “rate variation application” on Monday. Government has 30 days to review the request, the official said.
When contacted about the application, CEO of Fortis TCI, Eddinton Powell said:  “The primary objectives of the variation application are (1) To end Government’s requirement to subsidise service on South Caicos; (2) To levelise rates across the Company’s service territory of Providenciales, North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and South Caicos; (3) To re-balance rates to ensure greater equity and cost-of-service fairness, and (4) To facilitate the continued development of the electricity infrastructure, which is one of the best in the Caribbean, as was demonstrated by the Country’s recent experience with Hurricane Irene.”
 
According to Powell, the major tenets of the rate variation application are:
 
*  No change in Residential Rates
* Change in the rate structure to a declining block structure
*  Overall revenues from Basic Rates, from Government and commercial customers will increase by 5.5%
* Facilitate the take over of all street lights by the Company
 
The Company is currently providing the Government’s appointed Consultants, Oxera Consulting with all necessary requested information as they work to access the costs and tariffs (existing and proposed) of Fortis TCI and TCU in relation to appropriate regional and international comparators.
Customers in the Turks and Caicos Islands have long been complaining about the rates which they have to pay for electricity, but the power company said it has to pass on certain charges because of what it has to pay for fuel.
Last month, the second of two Wartsila 20V32 engines was officially handed over to Fortis TCI Ltd after receiving the green light for commercial operation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Back then, Ernie Jackson, Vice President of Generation and Engineering, said: “Fortis TCI has chosen to make this investment in order to reduce diesel consumption on our generating system as these engines consume less fuel per unit of electricity than the existing fleet. Residents can continue to expect the most efficient and the least costly electricity as we continue to build on our ongoing strategic capital investment programme.”
He added, “These engines have the capacity to produce up to 8.7 MWs of electrical power from each engine and represent more than 50% of Fortis TCI’s peak load. Both engines are state of the art and signify not only a major step towards reducing diesel consumption, but will also reduce exhaust emissions and would have a lower environmental footprint.”
Fortis TCI Ltd and Atlantic Equipment & Power Limited (AEP) became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fortis Inc located in Newfoundland Canada in August 2006.
Fortis TCI Ltd and AEP serve approximately 9, 000 customers or 88% of electricity customers in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Fortis TCI Ltd owns and operates a fully integrated system providing for the generation and distribution of energy in Providenciales, North Caicos and Middle Caicos pursuant to a 50-year licence that expires in 2037.
It also owns and operates an independent generating station and distribution system on South Caicos and is the sole provider of electricity for that island pursuant to a 50-year licence that expires in 2036. The Company has a combined diesel-fired generating capacity of 48 MW and met a combined peak demand of 28 MW in 2007. Fortis Turks and Caicos owns and operates 325 kilometers of transmission and distribution lines.
The utility‘s customer base increased 13 per cent in 2007, driven largely by strong economic growth in the country. Fortis Turks and Caicos invested US$24 million, before customer contributions, in capital projects in 2007 to meet current and projected growth in energy demand resulting from a rapidly growing customer base.
Fortis Inc., the largest investor-owned distribution utility in Canada, serves almost
two million gas and electric customers and has approximately $13 billion of assets.
Its regulated holdings include a natural gas utility and electric utilities in five Canadian provinces and three Caribbean countries.
Fortis Inc. owns non-regulated hydroelectric generation assets across Canada and in Belize and upper New York State. It also owns hotels and commercial real estate in Canada.


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