By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) incoming board was yesterday urged to close an agreement for more reliable, cheaper energy with Shell North America as “quickly as possible”.
Desmond Bannister, minister of works, confirmed that BPL was “almost a month behind” in completing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the energy giant for the proposed 270 megawatt (MW) multi-fuel power plant at Clifton Pier.
Speaking at yesterday’s introduction of the new BPL directors, Mr Bannister said: “The Government of The Bahamas has determined that BPL/BEC will enter an agreement with Shell North America. That is not something you can change. That is a cabinet decision.
“Your job now is to seek as quickly as possible to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Shell. That was the cabinet decision. We are almost a month behind with respect to that MOU and it is important for you to proceed with that.”
Ferron Bethel was the only former director to retain his post on BPL’s board after the previous version was dissolved due to factional infighting. The new board will consist of chairman Donovan Moxey; deputy chairman, Stephen Holowesko; James Moss; Debra Wood; Viana Gardiner; and Robyn Lee Oglviie with Mr Bethell.
Mr Bannister said BPL’s planned $500-$600m rate reduction bond (RRB) refinancing was another issue for the new board to address. “We have rate reduction bond legislation, and we are going to shortly appoint directors [for the special purpose vehicle that will issue the RRB],” he added. “It is going to be important for you as a board to move ahead with the Rate Reduction Bond.”
The Minister urged the Board to take a close look at the renewable energy proposals before BPL. “The Government and the people of this country expect that we are going to develop renewable energy at a level we have never done before,” he said.
“You will have several proposals that are before you of some wonderfully creative ideas Bahamians have for renewable energy throughout the Family Islands. It’s going to be important for you to look at those and for us to implement them.”
Mr Bannister added: “You have some entities throughout the country interested in solar energy at a large scale, and can make a huge difference in the Family Islands. It’s important for you to look at them, get the advice and move on quickly.
“It’s going to be important for you to work with the Ministry of Public Works because a number of the installers have been very concerned that my Ministry has been slow in the approval process. If that is the case it is going to be important for you to let me know so we can improve what we are doing at the Ministry of Works. Nothing ought to hold you back with respect to renewables in this country. That is absolutely critical for the Bahamian people.”