Power failures on the islands of North and Middle Caicos are continuing and apparently remain unaddressed by Fortis TCI, the Canadian-owned firm now supplying power to the entire Turks and Caicos Islands.
The failures are unannounced and usually happen daily at various times of the day or night. They appear to be a circuit overload condition, despite the diminishing population of these islands. Often the outages are less than 30 minutes but on weekends may last as long as one hour. When the outages occur, landline phone and internet service is lost, with only cell phone communications remaining.
Not only are islanders finding the unexpected outages inconvenient but they are often accompanied by voltage surges that have been destroying both electronics and electric appliances.
Internet modems, computers and computer programs, refrigerators, televisions have all been reported damaged or destroyed.
The failures have been ongoing for years and there have been virtually no improvements despite substantial increases in the cost of power which is now $0.50 per Kwh. Florida mainland rates are currently $0.12 per Kwh. The Fortis official annual report indicates it returns at least $10 million per year to their home office in Canada from a TCI population numbering in the low 30,000.
The basic Fortis rate is $0.26 per Kwh, with a add-on of $0.24 in additional fuel charges. The $0.26 rate was reported to include $0.06 for fuel. Diesel generation is used. Additional fuel charges in Florida are now $0.02 as part of the $0.12 rate. Despite the high costs neither the interim nor current government has ever called for an investigation into the actual costs that Fortis pays its fuel.
The Turks and Caicos Islands does not employ a utility commission to monitor the privately-owned electrical power or telecommunications companies. The government does employ one electrical commissioner, a Guyanese national who resides on Grand Turk. It is unclear what the commissioner’s duties include. Several years ago, Fortis promised to set up independent generation stations on every island. However, North and Middle Caicos continue to be supplied with power from the Providenciales grid. With diminishing demand in the family islands, it appears Fortis has dropped making an investment in separate generation.