By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A newly-formed renewable energy association of yesterday branded The Bahamas’ energy sector model as “outdated” and called for far-reaching structural reform.
The Sustainable Energy Association of the Bahamas (SEAB), which represents three renewable providers, said in a statement: “The current business model of the energy sector is outdated, and has not adapted to the paradigm of distributed generation. This means that the nation will, for the foreseeable future, depend on foreign, imported fuel and the conversion to carbon free technologies, like wind and solar, is not progressing as it should.”
It added that the Electricity Act currently only allows two power companies to provide electricity, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) and the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC). “This Act needs amendments, mainly to recognise that any citizen can now become a power producer and that incumbent utilities’ business models need changing,” the association added.
It argued that BPL’s agreement with Shell for the latter to develop a new multi-fuel power plant for New Providence will “alter the paradigm of the energy sector, as the energy cost from the new generation plant (PPA) should introduce a wholesale price of electricity”.
“From that we should create a market-oriented power trading system where anyone with the appropriate technical and financial background could bid for energy delivery,” the association said. “The reform should also address the trading scheme’s practical organisation into an independent Utilities Collection Agency, which would collect all revenues from energy sales and pay participants for their services, such as IPPs (independent power producers), ISOs (independent systems operators) and for the upkeep and modernisation of the grid.
“Transactions would be fully digitised similarly to the VAT system, and further improved by the application of blockchain technology. Blockchain ledgers would introduce peer-to-peer power trading where, for instance, a business or hotel could contract a certain amount of energy output from an IPP and conduct automated transactions between them.”
The SEAB also called for the sale of Family Island infrastructure to developers who would transform them into solar and wind powered mini-grids, then transfer them to local communities as co-operatives.
“This would result in the local population getting the benefits of their investments, as they could purchase shares in the cooperatives and have a voice in how they are managed. A good example for such a cooperative is the St George’s Cay Power Company operating in Spanish Wells that has high customer satisfaction and a service level that is unparalleled,” it said.
“As policy making is a government task, we would like to ask for participation in the process of how our energy future is shaped. We are also asking for a wider participation of businesses and individuals so that the benefits of distributed energy can be enjoyed by everyone.
“Since everyone can install a solar system and become an independent power producer (IPP), a cost of ten to 12 cents per kilowatt hour is achievable. It should be up to us how we want our energy and money to be managed.”
The SEAB was formed near the end of 2018 through three companies: Super Green/Compass Energy; Alternative Power Supplies; and Bahamas Energy and Solar Supplies.
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