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Optimism over plans for renewable energy

Attorney General Ryan Pinder.

Attorney General Ryan Pinder.

By KEILE CAMPBELL

kcampbell@tribunemedia.net

STAKEHOLDERS in the renewable energy sector are cautiously optimistic about the government’s plans to move towards cleaner fuels for power generation, particularly solar, as Attorney General Ryan Pinder revealed earlier this month they are reviewing requests for proposals (RFP) for solar panel projects on the family islands.

Former chair for the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s energy and environment division Debbie Deal said she believes that the government’s changes to the energy sector are in preparation to use alternative energy in the future.

“Right now, we don’t have enough energy being created. And the projects that they’re talking about are two or three years away, before they get going to the point where they can be used instead of the diesel, the diesel generators that are there now. That’s what I’m thinking that they’re planning on doing,” she said.

Mrs Deal said that no one will buy Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) outright listing BPL’s $1bn debt and its ageing equipment which needs imminent replacing, therefore, the government is utilising public-private partnerships (PPP).

She cautioned against the government “catering and pandering to big developers” and permitting projects that will build the country rather than simply provide jobs.

Mrs Deal said: “We have to stop these large entities coming in and draining from BPL, the government just has to stand firm and say, You know what, you want to build that - great. And guess what? You’re going to build with it, you’re going to build an energy plant of your own to take care of yourself, and you’re also going to take care of 50 houses, or three other businesses besides you. You’re gonna create an extra megawatt to take care of the surrounding area.”

She believes that a foreign entity could help run BPL to make a profit while providing “reliable, safe, clean energy”.

Guilden Gilbert, vice president of Alternative Power Solutions, said while his company was too busy to respond to the government’s RFP, he supports the initiative so long as the government follows through with the initiative.

Mr Gilbert acknowledged The Bahamas will use fossil fuels “for the foreseeable future” and solar can be used as a supplement.

“I think the conversation comes up more frequently when we have the situation we have this past weekend with BPL load shedding,” he said. “When power is out, power becomes a priority, so people are more likely to discuss renewables.”

He acknowledged the apprehension by some against solar energy particularly due to the initial outlay costs, however, the returns over time and more secure energy reliability make it worth the investment.

He was cautious against believing that renewable power generation will solve all the issues of the country’s power problems.

When speaking on making up the energy deficit, Mr Gilbert said: “I think we’re at a point now where why wouldn’t the government consider allowing BPL to own the distribution of the power on the Family Islands, but let independent power producers operate on the Family Islands. Instead of BPL operating or generating the power, let independent power producers produce that power, BPL can distribute the power but those independent power producers operate under very strict regulations.”

Comments

Sickened 3 weeks, 5 days ago

“We have to stop these large entities coming in and draining from BPL, the government just has to stand firm and say, You know what, you want to build that - great. And guess what? You’re going to build with it, you’re going to build an energy plant of your own to take care of yourself, and you’re also going to take care of 50 houses, or three other businesses besides you. You’re gonna create an extra megawatt to take care of the surrounding area.”

It would be amazing if this could happen. But in reality this would be a HUGE cost even for large developments. There's just no way that's going to happen. Of course as a back up plant these companies do this but to create a plant to run full-time. NO WAY - NO HOW! Big companies are attracted to country's that have reliable electricity and an economically viable price.

rosiepi 3 weeks, 5 days ago

The ‘large entities’ have built their own power sources and Atlantis also a water supply. However Mrs Deal’s proposal is ridiculous. A country wants to attract business? Build the infrastructure! Scuttle the reputation built by Bahamian corrupt politicians and gov’t officials that one must bring bags of cash to get project approval. Licensed robbery!

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