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Ground broken on $15m solar farm project

Breaking ground on the $15m solar farm project in Freeport on Friday.

Breaking ground on the $15m solar farm project in Freeport on Friday.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

LUCAYA Solar Power Ltd. officially broke ground on its $15m solar farm project in Freeport on Friday.

The site, located on land adjacent to the YMCA, is one of two that LSP has acquired for their project, which is being supported by the Inter-American Development Bank.

The work is expected to take nine to 10 months to complete and will employ a total of 80 Bahamians during the construction.

Social Services Minister Obie Wilchcombe was among several invited guests who attended the ceremony.

Jorge Marquez, CEO and President of Lucaya Solar Power Ltd; Dave McGregor, President of Grand Bahama Power Company; Daniela Carrera Marquis, IDB Country Representative for the Bahamas; and Sarah St George, vice chairman of Grand Bahama Port Authority, brought brief remarks.

On Thursday, Mr Marquez signed the licensing agreement with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, and a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the Grand Bahama Power Company.

He believes the solar farm project is something Bahamians should have been enjoying a long time ago.

“From the investor side, we saw the need for this type of solution for the country,” he said. “I think that what we are doing here must be replicated in the country.”

LSP is the first PPA signed by GBPC. It will generate 9.5 megawatts of energy. There are plans for other PPAs to soon follow.

LSP is 65 percent Bahamian owned. When construction is completed, the company will employ a small staff of four for the operation and maintenance of the project.

In her remarks, Sarah St George, vice chairman of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, said LSP’s project “is an incredible service for the Bahamas and Grand Bahama.”

“This is the first utility-scale solar farm not only in Grand Bahama, but the entire Bahamas,” she said. “The Bahamas has a green mandate to move toward 30 percent of renewables by 2030, and we are on the way. We are currently on a path to 22 megawatts out of roughly a total of 90 megawatts.”

“This project represents 9.5 megawatts or 6 percent of the island’s generation. So, you at LSP are blazing a trail.”

Ms St George also recognised Grand Bahama Power President Dave McGregor who came to Grand Bahama six years ago to initiate the renewable transformation in the island, before Hurricane Dorian halted their solar plant construction.

She said that in the coming months, Grand Bahamians will hear news of other projects to complement LSP’s project.

Dave McGregor said one of the reasons the journey was so long as they developed the PPA was that GBPC was keen to get well priced electricity.

“That is not always the case across the Caribbean, but I am proud to say the cost of electricity we procured from this project over the next 25 years is being procured at a very competitive price.

“So, that will help ensure price stability for customers, not necessarily reduction,” he said.

Mr McGregor said that Grand Bahama has enjoyed price stability on the island for the last six years. He noted that the fuel cost had been frozen at 10 cents, and is now just under 12 cents.

“What the solar plant will do is allow us to spend less in fuel, but we do have to pay Lucaya Solar for their energy. So, you will see that stability as soon as the plant is switched on in a few months.

“As more and more firms come on, it allows us to focus on the poles and wires and distribution side, and allows others the opportunity to fulfill the generation side,” he explained.

Daniela Carrera Marquis, of IDB, believes more solar farms should be built in the Family Islands.

“This pioneer event is an important contribution to the agenda on climate change and the reduction of CO2 for the Bahamas,” she said.

In addition to being a financially sound project, Ms Marquis said it meets four of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Comments

John 2 days, 11 hours ago

Do you know solar farms are not even necessary on most family islands, and including Grand Bahama? Most of these islands have long stretches of highway that connects settlements . And these highways have street lights. Each of these street lights can be outfitted with a solar panel that collects sunlight during the daytime and not only recharged its own battery but feeds energy into the grid. And because the Family Island settlements are relatively small with few businesses that require commercial power, these settlements can become completely solar powered during the daytime just from their long stretches of street lights. Then each home and commercial building, including schools and churches can be outfitted with solar panels as well. So rather that producing power from fossil fuels, BPL only need go in and manage the power produced from solar. Those households that produce excess power will get credits for the extra power and those homes and businesses that require more energy than they produce will be billed for it. The average bill will be reduced by 50 percent or more? And BPL will make a healthy profit just my managing and distributing clean and locally produced solar power

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sheeprunner12 2 days, 7 hours ago

Agreed. The Govt just like to use these companies, and not empower the citizens.

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Hobo2500 1 day, 22 hours ago

It’s bad enough Bahamians are making money on AirBnB now you want to let them make money on electricity too :)

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K4C 9 hours, 24 minutes ago

and it's going to take 30 areas of valuable land too

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