Posted by: Anonymous Journalist | Friday, 08 April 2011

Blackout in Bermuda

FRIDAY, APR. 1: Hundreds of residents have had their lights turned out for failing to pay bills as recession woes continue to plague Bermuda.

More than 1,000 homes have been disconnected for ignoring bills so far this year — a huge increase on 2010.

And about 250 BELCO customers had their power supply cut off during a single day blitz on Monday.

James Whittaker, Senior Reporter, Bermuda Sun

This is a travesty.  250 homes cut off in a single day, 1,000+ to date.  And to read it described in a publication as a one-day “blitz” smacks of mockery and disrespect for those who arrived home to lights out.  Does BELCO think Bermudians won’t notice?  Won’t care?

Apparently they do, sitting snugly in their homes, lights full on, a hot dinner in their stomachs, playing contentedly with electronic games or watching films — perhaps even relaxing in the warm waters of a pool or spa.  They have no care in the world about children and seniors in the dark, unable to cook, food spoiling in slowly heating refrigerators.  Hmmm — and what about those who have medicines that must remain refrigerated?  Oh, well — too bad for them I suppose.

Before going further, let’s dismiss from argument the percentage of folks who don’t know how to prioritize and are habitually bad bill-payers.  Yes, these people will always exist, but with so many out of work, or surviving on meager wages in this economic downturn they are NOT intended as part of this current discussion.  Situations like this are happening around the globe, increasingly encroaching on societies that were considered to be ‘middle’ class.  As with guns, gangs and drugs, is this a global example Bermuda wishes to emulate?

BELCO has a monopoly on Bermuda’s energy, a stranglehold which means that every Bermudian is enslaved to BELCO’s policies and procedures.  Interesting, this quote from BELCO’s own statement entitled “Our Culture:”

“At BELCO, we’ve built a culture of ‘giving’. And that means we focus on contributing to every aspect within and around BELCO. Whether it’s our employees’ well being or the community’s welfare, we’re committed to enhancing standards of living…”

and further on, this snippet:

“As cliché as it sounds, we believe in ‘do unto others as you’d like them to unto you’. After all, we are literally neighbours…”

Let’s name these good-hearted BELCO ‘neighbours,’ shall we?  (This is all a matter of public record from their website).  If you’re in the dark perhaps you could drop round one of their homes for a meal:

  • A. L. Vincent Ingham, President & CEO, Ascendant Group; CEO, BELCO, Bermuda Gas, PureNERGY
  • Andrew D. Parsons, President, BELCO
  • Robert B. Steynor, Senior Vice President, Operation, BELCO
  • Michael D. Daniel, Senior Vice President, Engineering & Environment, BELCO
  • Christopher A. Coelho, Senior Vice President, Finance & Administration, BELCO; Treasurer, Ascendant Group
  • Edith L. Robinson, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Ascendant Group
  • Linda C. Smith, Senior Vice President, Corporate Relations, Ascendant Group
  • Jenny Smatt Adkins, Executive Vice President, Sigma Corporate Services

This situation makes me think of all the historical examples of one entity having too much power over peoples’ lives — all those mining concerns, logging concerns, and all the workers with no choice but to live in the “company” town and shop at the “company” store, even though they were never able to earn q-u-i-t-e enough money to pay for their necessities.  Fast forward to England in the ’80s — 3-day work weeks and power cut-offs lead to riots, looting and fighting in the streets — and the British police could NOT control it.  So many people injured, so many families nearly destroyed.

One of the things that helped resolve the energy problems for many English homes was the introduction of prepaid electric meters, alleviating those big bills arriving in the post, demanding to be paid in big chunks.  Why can’t Bermuda do the same???  It would allow those struggling on marginalized earnings to have a better control over their energy needs.

Read BELCO’s website, look up articles of the past year or so and you’ll see an entity that is operating on the status quo rather than pushing to the forefront for energy in the future — just like the rest of the global power brokers are acting.  Bermuda doesn’t need thinking stuck in yesterday’s ideas: it needs eyes looking at today’s problems, planning for tomorrow’s, and unfettered by conventional thinking. Look how cleverly Bermuda thought about the problem of fresh water all those years ago, long before desalinization — roofs, rainwater.  Simple.  Ingenious.

With all the energy issues going on in the world, Bermuda needs brains working outside the box.  Why isn’t BELCO pushing for solar power, wind power?  Wouldn’t it be brilliant for Bermuda to leap to the forefront and become the leader in NEW energy resources, SUSTAINABLE resources?  Rather than ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new gas turbines and planning on replacing diesel plants, why not bring in experts in solar energy and engineering to carve a path for the future?  Yes, Bermuda doesn’t have land to spare for huge energy fields, but if someone was able to engineer a platform to drill for oil in the middle of the ocean, why can’t someone engineer an ocean platform to harvest solar energy?

Oil, diesel and gas being used to create our energy every day making fat cats fatter, and 1,000 homes are in the dark tonight.  How many more?  Imagine if all those people stepped out from their doors and gathered in the streets, calling for help, calling for change.  How long before tempers flared in frustration?  How long before the police were called out?  How long before that first single rock was thrown?

Mr. Ingham et al at BELCO, Premier Cox et al in government — you should be ashamed so many of your neighbours have been so ill-served.  And ashamed your foresight apparently extends only so far as your own comfort and riches dictate.

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Responses

  1. PIGS AT THE TROUGH!
    Salvation Army,Schools,Police,LCCA,Pals,Family Center,seniors,have to go begging,while the plp bourgeois elite ,pigs at the tough,are not suffering, Champagne Jennifer’s weekly tab at Miles Market would feed many struggling families


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