A renewable energy provider yesterday blasted the four-year delay in approving Windsor School's solar energy system as an "absolute travesty" that has cost him thousands of dollars.
Philip Holdom, president of Alternative Power Supply (APS), in a statement said September 5 had marked the fourth anniversary of his firm's installation of an energy system that has yet to be been turned on "due to continual delays with the electrical approval process at the Ministry of Public Works".
His release, implying that the situation at Windsor School was a microcosm of why renewable energy penetration in The Bahamas has been so slow, said the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) had approved the solar system as part of Bahamas Power & Light's (BPL) Small-Scale Renewable Generation (SSRG) initiative.
Revealing that the system has already been inspected four times, Mr Holdom voiced his frustration with the inability of regulators and government agencies to sign-off on the final approval certificate.
"In September of 2014, a state-of-the-art solar system was donated by a school patron and APS to Windsor School," he said. "The purpose of the solar system was to power the science lab, enabling the Windsor School students to experience and interact with a renewable energy system in real time.
"The solar system also included an online app so it could be viewed live and teaching could occur interactively on the school's white board. We would then teach a class in renewable energy and related maths and science. Applied science such as photovoltaics, basic AC and DC electricity, Ohms law, power and energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy design were part of the educational offerings."
Mr Holdom continued: "The solar system at Windsor School has been inspected a total of four times; twice by URCA and twice by the Ministry of Public Works (MOPW), and no one will complete the approval certificate for the system.
"Because the installation predated the institution of the SSRG, the system has actually gone through the same inspection process twice, which in any other country would likely be considered unnecessary. It has both the URCA and BPL approvals, but is held up at the MOPW. There is no reason why the system should not have been passed many years ago...
"The MOPW will simply not release the final approved inspection certificate. All requirements for a code-compliant solar system per the SSRG regulations have been met. We have been writing e-mails on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis for the past four years to the authorities that have jurisdiction (AHJs) without success".
Mr Holdom said students were being deprived of opportunities because they could not interact with a system that "has simply collected dust". He added that two sets of batteries have been destroyed due to not receiving a charge from the solar panels, amounting to a loss of thousands of dollars.
"If the AHJs cannot perform their duties in a timely manner, and at the speed of business, then a private independent inspection body should be authorised by the government to perform such tasks," Mr Holdom argued.
"That body should perform timely, efficient inspections with integrity. This is such a critical need that APS would be willing to cease installing solar systems and develop and head the inspection body for the good of the national renewable energy integration process. What is the point in installing solar systems if the inspection process is counterproductive to business and prevents us from achieving our National Energy Policy goals?
"Only two solar systems are currently being approved per year for an average solar business, which is simply unsustainable. As a result, the solar inspection process is being abandoned, ignored or otherwise bypassed by solar companies and other persons installing solar systems. When any AHJ creates a process, it must be achievable or the private sector cannot take it seriously or will follow a course that has undermined our country for decades."