Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. (File photo)
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE government expects to save $3m in electricity bills each year with its recently announced street lighting retrofitting project, according to Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
This would mean net savings of $40m in taxpayer money over the life of the project.
However, despite seeking approval from the House of Assembly to borrow $14.6m from the Caribbean Development Bank for the project about two weeks ago, the government will have to provide an additional $2.4m to ensure the project is fully financed.
Additionally, Dr Minnis said in 2018, the country imported approximately $761m in oil imports for local consumption. However, he said, the government hopes to substantially reduce this by the utilisation of more clean energy resources.
Dr Minnis suggested this was part of the impetus for the government’s push toward the creation of a renewable energy economy.
“I am happy to advise that we are taking significant steps to make good on that promise,” the Killarney MP told the House of Assembly on Wednesday. “As was announced in the budget communication, we propose to invest over $170m in renewable energy over the next decade.
“Energy reform will enhance the daily lives of our citizens. Our renewable energy strategy will help the country to leverage an abundant resource to reduce the cost of living and to create investment opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs. Solar energy fosters a safer, cleaner environment by employing renewable energy as a source of power.
“Last year, we imported approximately $761m in oil imports for local consumption. This could be reduced substantially if we utilise more clean energy resources. Over time, lower oil imports mean lower energy costs, which will mean lower monthly bills, and more disposable income in the hands of Bahamians. Hence, we announced in this budget a number of projects that would move us toward realising this objective.”
Examples of this include the recently announced street lighting retrofitting project that will convert current street lights to LED lights.
“This will facilitate the installation of a smart street light grid system with central controls. The overall project is valued at $17m, of which the sum of $14.6m will be funded via a loan facility with the Caribbean Development Bank. We will provide $2.4m in counter-part financing for the full project value.
“This project will save the government approximately $3m per year in electricity bills over the next two decades. If this project is projected to save the government $3m per year in electricity costs, that means a prospective net savings of close to $40m in taxpayer funds over the life of the project.”
Dr Minnis said his administration’s goal is to capitalise on the make up of the country by generating a substantial amount of solar energy on the Family Islands, which have ample land and relatively low populations.
He said in doing so, it is the government’s intent to meet a significant amount of the power needs in the Family Islands via solar power.