By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A UK-based renewable energy power and its Bahamian partners are touting a green energy technology proposal which seeks to ‘revolutionise’ the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s (BEC) existing electrical system and generate millions in annual cost savings for the country’s major electricity provider.
Real estate developer Eugene Turner and Nathaniel Edgecombe, founding president and CEO of both American Middle East Engineers AMEE International and Emerald Waterways Development Co have partnered with the UK-based firm Renewable Energy Power Systems (REPS) and created a proposal to harness tidal energy to produce low cost, clean energy directly to BEC’s electrical power grid.
“By harnessing tidal power and currents, we can lock into an energy field which can be predicted with confidence over the long-term. Once our sea turbine is fixed to the sea bed deep beneath the waves, it would seem invisible, it does not impose itself on the landscape and it is not a potential hazard to ocean-dwelling life and its users. The design is load-bearing and self-supporting without the need for extensive seabed preparations, which allows for a rapid installation process. The venture draws existing ocean currents into the turbine to capture and convert energy into power at minimum two knots, pursuant to mapping data and optimal resource location with current at 5 knots,” the group said.
The company is proposing to transform and revolutionise the existing conventional system throughout The Bahamas. The company is proposing to transform the existing electrical system into a new renewable energy technology within two years at a cost of approximately $500 million. The company claims to have already secured the necessary financing for the project, stating that, subject to Government approval of its energy contract, the Government would retain 100 per cent ownership of the project. The company claims that once its green energy technology is in full operation, BEC could realise financial savings of up to $400 million annually. The company proposes a contract with BEC to not exceed 20 cents per kilowatt hour over the ensuing 25-year period. Following that period, the company says that the technology will be gifted to the Bahamas Government.
Prime Minister Christie recently revealed that the Government intends to create two new BEC entities into which the relevant assets, liabilities and operations of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will be transferred. The first company, a new transmission and distribution company (“NewCo”) will be wholly owned by BEC and will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair and expansion of NewCo’s electricity transmission. The company will also be responsible for distribution systems, billing, collection, customer services and other relevant services across the Bahamas. The second company will be a new generation services company. That company will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, repair, financing of BEC’s current electricity generation facilities and certain other assets located across the Bahamas, as well the development of new power generation plant. It will enter into a Power Purchase Agreement with Newco. Through a request for proposal (RFP) process the Government will seek to identify “financially and operationally credible parties or consortiums”. “It is our intent to enter into management agreements with the successful party, or parties, to operate the two new companies, and in the case of the new generation company, a management agreement and/or a Joint Venture Agreement. Our new partners will be expected to assist the Government in transitioning the relevant assets, liabilities, operations and personnel from BEC to the new companies, and to assist the Government in driving performance improvement and upgrading the various systems to the highest standards,” Mr Christie said. Mr Christie said that the Government remains “absolutely committed” to introducing renewable energy into the generation mix for The Bahamas as well as the advancement of a residential energy self generation programme to be implemented by mid-2014, with a goal of meeting up to 10 per cent of the country’s power needs over time. The Government is also seeking to have 30 per cent of the country’s energy sector’s power generation come from renewable energy sources by 2030.