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Campaigners: Belco meeting only the first of many needed

Belco, with the new North Power Station in the foreground (File photograph)

Belco’s meeting last night with area residents over fallout from the plant as well as the price hike from its Fuel Adjustment Rate requires many more talks before objectors will be appeased, according to one of the attendees.

A member of the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition told The Royal Gazette: “The meeting was held, but BCAB believes this is the beginning of many meetings that will need to take place to have a clear understanding.”

The meeting called by Belco on the outskirts of its plant in Pembroke came a week after the BCAC pressure group held a forum of its own, accusing the utility of falling short in its responsibilities to area residents.

Belco has faced a steep bill over soot fallout and emissions after its North Power Station came online in 2020.

The power company had to switch to diesel, a more expensive fuel, after the new station belched soot over the densely residential area north of the plant.

The station had been burning heavy fuel oil instead of the liquefied natural gas it had been designed to burn — despite LNG never getting approved by the Regulatory Authority.

The RA said last week that a team from a university in the United States would be tasked with mitigating the emissions.

The media were barred from last night’s meeting, with attendance limited.

The BCAB source spoke with the Gazette shortly after the two-hour discussion wrapped up at a business on Serpentine Road.

“We commend Belco for the work they have done,” the attendee said.

“But there is still a lot of conversation that needs to happen to ensure that these issues within the community are being adequately addressed.”

The FAR increase, which kicked in on October 1, ramped up electricity bills and led to protests outside Belco.

Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, was initially bullish on having the RA rethink its numbers.

However, he acknowledged at last week’s BCAC meeting that getting the regulator to backtrack presented “a difficult challenge”.

Last night’s remarks from the coalition members appeared to confirm that there was no quick end in sight.

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Published November 03, 2023 at 12:43 pm (Updated November 03, 2023 at 12:44 pm)

Campaigners: Belco meeting only the first of many needed

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