MINISTER of Works Alfred Sears with the new BPL board of directors yesterday.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
WORKS and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears said Shell North America is willing to work with the Davis administration as it finalises its energy policies and priorities for Bahamas Power & Light.
The Minnis administration signed an MoU with Shell NA in November 2018. The proposed project includes the development of a gas-fired 220-plus megawatt power plant; marine infrastructure to receive liquified natural gas; a gas pipeline to bring gas to share and an onshore LNG regasification terminal.
The future of the Shell project has been unclear since the Progressive Liberal Party won the general election. The comments came during a press conference to name BPL’s board of directors.
“There was a meeting between the Prime Minister and executives of Shell and I also had a meeting with them,” Mr Sears said yesterday. “I participated in both meetings and the conversation. Shell is available and has expressed its willingness as the government recalibrates to work and facilitate and is willing to partner with the government. That in a nutshell is the outcome of the conversation.”
The deal with Shell has been closely connected to BPL’s long-standing plan to issue a rate reduction bond which would remove BPL’s legacy debt off the company’s balance sheet and pave the way for necessary investments.
However, Minister of Economic Affairs Michael Halkitis recently said it is reasonable to conclude the Davis administration will not issue the bond any more. Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis has said issuing the bond now would increase electricity costs by as much as 20 percent.
Mr Sears announced Bahamas Power & Light’s new board of directors during yesterday’s press conference. He said the board will examine how to deal with BPL’s debt issues and investment needs.
He expressed confidence the board will help the company meet an ambitious target: having 30 percent of the power it supplies to customers by renewable energy.
He noted the chairman of the board, Pedro Rolle, has several decades of experience in the financial services sector and is the current president of Exuma’s Chamber of Commerce.
Danny Ferguson is the deputy chairman of the board. Other members include Errol Davis, Anthony Farrington, Reneika Knowles, Dirk Simons, Cheryl Simms and Nadia Storr.
Mr Sears said: “The board that the Cabinet has selected will achieve – I’m standing here in front of the press and the social streaming to say – that I am confident that this board will achieve and get us as close as possible and possibly even beyond 30 percent of renewable. We have no shortage of renewable energy in The Bahamas. I mean we can look right out and see it. The sun, how do we harness this energy so that we reduce the cost of electricity? How can we ensure that the over $1bn we spend every year on fossil fuel is reduced? And how do we ensure that we have a more reliable and robust distribution and transmission?”
Outgoing board chairman Dr Donovan Moxey attended yesterday’s event.
“This occasion is an expression of the democratic process,” Mr Sears said. “We exercise this democratic process with maturity and respect because we’re all building a nation-state.”