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COVID’s lockdown drove 10% Nassau energy usage drop

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

New Providence’s energy demand decreased by just ten percent at the height of the first COVID-19 economic lockdown in April last year, an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has revealed.

The multilateral lender, in a paper detailing plans to boost The Bahamas’ renewable energy penetration with $9.2m in European Union (EU) grant funding, said the island’s energy usage had recovered to pre-pandemic levels by the 2020 fourth quarter as the tourism industry and wider economy began to re-open.

“With the arrival of displaced people after Dorian, New Providence experienced a slight increase in the electricity demand, only stopped when COVID-19 started to impact the country,” the IDB report said. 

“As a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns and the decline in economic and tourism activities, electricity demand in New Providence decreased around ten percent from March to April 2020, but then recovered by the 2020 fourth quarter with the reopening of the economy.

“In the long run, electricity demand in New Providence and across the country is expected to experience a sustained increase. Even before Hurricane Dorian struck The Bahamas, there were apparent challenges to the operation of the electricity grid during the summer months of peak-time usage.”

New Providence, which accounts for 75 percent of total energy consumption in The Bahamas, will see an annual 1.6 percent growth in electricity consumption according to a 2019 report by WSP. That projected the island’s gross consumption will increase from 1,521 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2019 to 1,948 GWh in 2035.

The relatively minor drop-off in New Providence electricity consumption between March and April 2020 likely reflects that the major hotels still needed to run their air conditioning systems to maintain the property’s condition despite the absence of guests. And, while many businesses were closed, that energy consumption merely shifted to residential areas.

As for Abaco, the IDB report forecast that most of its pre-Dorian electricity customers will ultimately return. “Pre-Dorian in Abaco, annual electricity consumption amounted to 124.5 GWh with electricity supply still 100 percent reliant on diesel generation,” the IDB said.

“As a result of the severe impact on Abaco’s transmission and distribution (T&D) systems, BPL lost most of its electricity consumers. Pre-Dorian, BPL had approximately 8,879 active customers in Abaco and its associated cays, of which 8,182 are envisioned to benefit from the reconstruction of the electricity T&D infrastructure.

“While the utility’s main generating plant at Wilson City was undamaged during the hurricane, Marsh Harbour power station was severely damaged and is now inoperable. This plant was used as an emergency backup and for voltage support in the Marsh Harbour area.

“In the aftermath of the hurricane, Abaco experienced a sharp drop in electricity demand because of limited generation and loss of electricity customers. Nonetheless, both are quickly returning to pre-hurricane levels, with over 6,500 customers reconnected to the grid. The goal is restoring infrastructure in a resilient manner, so that the existing and remaining 20-25 percent of customers benefit from reliable electricity service.”

Comments

carltonr61 3 years, 1 month ago

Nice to know the dynamic interconnection of events, people and places. Amazing how things shift.

Sickened 3 years, 1 month ago

And BPL still can't keep the lights on. USELESS!!!

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