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Power Failures Larger Than FORTIS

Mark Fulford
Ultimately a Question of Political Leadership

For the last 24 hours, Turks and Caicos Islanders in Providenciales have been without power. The easiest thing is to attack FORTIS and complain from frustration and even anger. I admonish against that as I commiserate with my fellow Belongers in this moment; praying that the loss of power did not impose too undue a hardship and pose no great risk to them and their families. Let’s remember, FORTIS performs better than nearly all regional power companies. Let’s also recall that after the last hurricane, FORTIS – lead by a number of bright and talented Belongers – performed valiantly.

I am not here to sing FORTIS praise, because I am sure they are quite capable of doing that. The problem is therefore larger than FORTIS. It is ultimately a question of political leadership.

Residents from almost every settlement in Providenciales endured significant losses and inconvenience over the last two days which is a warning that alternative energy needs to be pursued by Government as a viable source to diversify our energy sector. The legal framework under which Power is being supplied to the many homes needs overhauling. The recommendations made by the RNets which was accepted by the Cabinet is a good place to start, but both Governments have failed to pay the required attention to the Energy sector that is needed to have legislation keep pace with the technology of delivering energy. This is evident by the fact that the Office of the Utility Commissioner has not grown beyond the sole Commissioner under both Governments.

In my view, Turks and Caicos islands has grown to the point that we need supplemental or redundancy energy options; so that in moments like this, the citizens of these island and those who dwell with us, need not suffer as a whole because of these moments of technical difficulty; which happens from time-to-time.

In checking on the impacts of the power loss and it’s duration, I learned that flights full of returning Belongers and paying guests had to sit on tarmacs abroad because of the power outage at Providenciales airport. Government should have by now and must now consider what alternatives are available to offset these challenges.

I can only imagine the loss of foods in our homes and the great challenges this poses to restaurants and hotels. We need a comprehensive national energy policy; with strategies to support our energy needs in times like this and to protect our Turks and Caicos brand which is the largest asset we have in the international market place.

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