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Activist welcomes Belco price freeze

Sheelagh Cooper who has welcomed Belco's freeze on electricity rates.

Poverty campaigner Sheelagh Cooper yesterday said other companies should heed the example of Belco for freezing its electricity rates because of the economic crisis.Belco announced on Friday it is applying to the Energy Commission to defer a 1.5 percent average increase due on New Year's Day, as customers struggle to pay their existing charges.Mrs Cooper told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “It is a wonderful thing when a company chooses to put the community first and Belco has certainly done that. Belco has set an example for others to follow by its decision not to raise the cost of electricity even though it was given the right to do so by Government.”The United Bermuda Party and Bermuda Democratic Alliance previously applauded Belco for the rates freeze, with Opposition leader Kim Swan adding it had avoided disconnecting families who were behind with their bills.Contributing an anecdote of her own, Mrs Cooper said: “I had a profound experience the other day when I was invited by the machine shop department at Belco to collect a donation.“I arrived to find 30 hard-working big and strong Bermudian men who cared so much about Bermuda's children that they got together and gave a portion of their pay, raising enough money to feed a whole classroom of children for several months. That's the kind of company Belco is.”Diane Gordon, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, yesterday said Belco's move also reflects the impact on local companies. Mrs Gordon said power consumption had been reduced by lower numbers of work permit holders, surplus of unoccupied office space, less construction projects, fewer companies working overtime and a shrinking number of available hotel rooms.