By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce is backing local alternative energy suppliers in their bid to secure renewable project financing from Bahamian commercial banks.
Debby Deal, who heads the chamber’s energy and environment division, told Tribune Business that alternative energy suppliers first raised the concern over access to financing, or the lack of it, some eight months ago.
“There were some who said that for their high-end clients financing was no issue. On the lower end, the small businesses, for instance, they were getting a lot of quotes but persons didn’t have the disposable income to go forward,” she added.
“The chamber is working with the alternative energy suppliers to help the sector. We want to ensure that not just the wealthy are able to have access to renewables. We’re working with alternative energy suppliers and supporting them in their discussions with the banks to tailor financing for alternative energy.
“We believe that new construction would be a great place to start. We’re not trying to take money away from BPL. If you could save $200 on your BPL bill, that would be part of the payment. We’re still hashing out the details. We’re just trying to figure out how to do it where everyone is happy; the banks, the suppliers and the customers.”
Ms Deal also backed the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority’s (URCA) plan to implement a framework for the procurement of power generation resources. “There has been a lot of controversy in recent times over how things have been done,” she added.
“We really need to have faith in our energy company because energy is the number one thing that guides our every day living. We need to have a really good relationship with our energy company, BPL, and there needs to be transparency and accountability.”
Shevonn Cambridge, URCA’s director of utilities and energy, said at the regulator’s town hall meeting last week that it was looking at putting in place a set of procurement procedures that would set the framework to ensure certainty, accountability and transparency.
This, he added, will also help to build stakeholder confidence in the process regarding the procurement of goods and services.