By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
Freeport is moving to become a "smart city" through its utilities supplier's $15m renewable energy investments, including electrical car charging stations that will be rolled out in early 2019.
Delano Arthur, of the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC), said the energy provider - which already has an electric vehicle (EV) charging station at its headquarters - would like to install the first public EV solar charging station at the Government Complex in Freeport.
The utility is one of several sponsors of the second Grand Bahama Technology Summit, and will reveal its solar energy activities during the November 14-16 conference.
Mr Arthur said: "Our presence not only shows that we are committed to this event, but that we are indeed committed to overall growth in Grand Bahama."
He added that Grand Bahama Power began discussions on utility-scale solar earlier this year, and said: "We have deployed over three megawatts (MW) of solar, which encompasses over 11 acres of land at the cost of $5m, which we will commission in 2019.
"In addition, we want to start to get the electrical vehicle industry going on Grand Bahama. We currently have two electrical vehicles, and if all goes well by the end of October, we will have seven electrical vehicles.
"We are also beginning to place solar charging stations in strategic locations on GB to also allow for persons who want to use EVs because they may not have charging station at their home."
Mr Arthur added they Grand Bahama Power wants to place charging stations at strategic locations, explaining: "We began to talk with the minister (of state for Grand Bahama) to have one placed at the Government complex. The electricity will be provided free of cost to users by the GBPC."
Grand Bahama Power, he added, will also be implementing an advanced automated meter infrastructure that will benefit consumers. Current meter readings are taken once per month, but an automated meter would allow for better efficiency in meter reading.
"We are starting to move us toward a smart city and being able to put information in the (hands) of our customers," Mr Arthur said. "With this new advanced technology we would be able to read the meter seven, eight, nine times a day, and the consumers can better manage electricity and better estimate their consumption, and help build a smart city."
Battery storage is another aspect of Grand Bahama Power's plans. Mr Arthur said it has invested $10m in ten MW of energy storage that will be placed at its power plant on Peel Street.
Mr Arthur said Grand Bahama Power will showcase and share the technology at the summit to show how it is helping customers, and what it is doing to improve efficiency and encourage conservation of energy.
He added that it saw its participation in the summit "as providing means and ways in which this island can start to see the fruits we all have been talking about".