By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government yesterday said it will explore implementing a “pay as you go” metering and billing system, in a bid to slash the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s (BEC) nine-figure accounts receivables and help consumers manage their energy consumption.
Kenred Dorsett, minister of the environment and housing, told the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy Security Forum that the possibility of developing such a system would be explored with the aid of the Washington-based Carbon War Room (CWR).
Elaborating on the potential for developing a ‘pay as you go’ metering and billing system, Mr Dorsett said: “Countries across the Caribbean have instituted a pre-pay metering system for electricity, so almost in the same way that you have phone cards, where you get a certain amount of credit, you actually have a system where you can buy electricity cards and power your meter with it.
“It has slashed the accounts receivables of many of the electricity corporations around the region, and the consumers have now become more cognisant of how their credits are being used.
“In their data, they noted that more people turn off the television and don’t leave the computers on, so it has led to a higher sense of understanding the consumption of energy because they really control it by themselves,” the Minister added.
“That is something we are going to to continue to explore. It is something that BEC has indicated that they have wanted to explore for the last 10-15 years, so its something through the CWR that we hope to be able to advance.”
Dionisio D’Aguilar, a BEC Board member under the former Ingraham administration, has frequently urged the Government to introduce these electricity meters throughout the Bahamas.
He revealed to Tribune Business previously that the Board he was a member of had been exploring such an initiative prior to the 2012 general election, believing it would aid both BEC and consumers’ cash flows, and help the latter not to have their power disconnected.
Mr Dorsett, meanwhile, yesterday said the Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CWR non-governmental organisation, founded by Virgin Group chief executive, Sir Richard Branson, which ‘solidifies’ the Bahamas’ commitment to join CWR’s 10-island challenge.
CWR launched the ‘10 island challenge’ in 2012 in an effort to reduce the dependency of small island developing states (SIDS) on fossil fuels, working with engineering firms specialising in alternative energy to promote sustainable energy and attract foreign investment.
Mr Dorsett said that under the MoU, CWR would help to develop solar farms of up to 20 MegaWatts (MW) on several islands in the Bahamas.
“The Government, along with CWR, will work to develop solar farm programmes of up to 20 MW across a number of islands, namely Eleuthera, Andros, Cat Island, Acklins, Bimini, Inagua, Crooked Island, Exuma and Long Island.
This programme will be initiated by a technical analysis and a feasibility assessment to be undertaken by CWR. It will be implemented once approved by the Government.”
Mr Dorsett said CWR will also support the Government in developing and executing a tender process for the implementation of a solar photovoltaic farm at the BAMSI complex in North Andros, and implement country-wide street lighting retrofit projects.