Village to Intervene in NCUC Ferry Schedule Proceeding and Elects to Appeal ROFR Order

On February 19, Bald Head Island Transportation (BHIT) (the current ferry operator) filed with the NCUC to change the ferry schedule from 30-minute to 45-minute turnarounds, meaning that the ferry would leave from each marina every 45 minutes rather than every 30 minutes.  While the intent to make a change in the ferry schedule was shared in advance with the Village and the Bald Head Association (BHA), the actual plan to reduce ferry service was not shared in advance nor was the Village consulted in the development of the plan.

The Village has been closely following the ongoing commentary in the community and at the Utilities Commission since the filing, the vast majority of which have indicated widespread and serious concerns with the negative effects of the proposal.  Among other things:

  • A survey of homeowners by the BHA showed overwhelming opposition to the proposal.   
  • The Bald Head Academy and the Club have sought to intervene as parties in the Utilities Commission proceeding and have made detailed and compelling statements of their concerns.
  • Over 120 letters have been submitted by Bald Head Island homeowners directly to the NCUC—almost all of them expressing serious concern with and opposition to BHIT’s proposal.

In light of this outpouring of public concern and the importance of these issues to the Island, the Village voted on Friday, March 15 to also seek to intervene in the NCUC proceeding on behalf of Island residents, businesses, and employees in order to seek a solution that is more considerate of the needs of the various Island stakeholders.  The Council did not do this lightly but felt compelled to seek intervention to ensure that the Island’s voices are heard before the Commission. 

This action by BHIT does highlight the concern the Village has expressed in the prior proceedings before the Commission about the importance of regulatory oversight of the transportation operations.  Without regulatory oversight, stakeholders would have no recourse for these type of arbitrary decisions.

In this regard, also at its March 15 meeting the Village elected to appeal the Order of the Brunswick County Superior Court finding invalid the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for the Village to acquire the Transportation System recorded in the Brunswick County Registry.  The Right of First Refusal was given to the Village in 1999 to protect the public from the potential of an unregulated monopoly. 

On behalf of all Island entities and homeowners the Village will continue to advocate for a transportation system that is safe, reliable, and operated in the best interests of all the Island stakeholders.