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Renward Wells reveal Government’s plans for providing affordable energy

At present in The Bahamas, Government does not allow private sector individuals to generate electricity above 240 kw, however, below that individuals can make an application to the Minister who is responsible for BEC and who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Works, said Renward Wells, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Works & Urban Development.

Wells was one of the speakers at The Bahamas International Investment & Business Forum which was held in Grand Bahama last week.

Speaking on the topic “Powering The Bahamas: Strategies for Developing Affordable and Sustainable Energy” Wells said the price of electricity in Nassau and the Family Islands is $0.42 pw which he noted places The Bahamas among the most expensive countries when it comes to the cost of electricity and the highest priced in the Northern Caribbean and North America.

“The cost of electricity in The Bahamas has no doubt hampered the process of business and the attraction of new investors in this country,” Wells continued.

“Not only are our existing businesses encountering difficulty keeping up with their electricity bills, but so are regular citizens who are only responsible for their household bills.

“This has become a vexing problem and has gotten to the point where businesses have to make the decision whether to pay the electricity bill or order more merchandise.

“We cannot allow this to continue while expecting growth within the businesses and investment sector of our country.”

Wells said we must make the process of doing business in The Bahamas as smooth and inviting as possible, and lowering the cost of electricity is one of the ways that it can happen for Bahamian business operators and foreign direct investors alike.

He stated that because we use fossil fuels to generate energy in The Bahamas the Government’s commitment to lowering the cost of electricity through renewable energy sources and conservation will not only be environmentally friendly by lessening our carbon footprint, but it will save the consumer money and hopefully help to stimulate the economy.

“To this end” he said, “the Government of The Bahamas has requested various proposals using various kinds of technologies that would help us to reduce the cost of electricity.

“The proposals the Government has begun to evaluate are green technologies or alternative energy technologies, such as wind turbines, solar farms, waste to energy, hydro, bio-diesel production and possibly the conversion to LNG gas, to turbine systems to produce electricity.

“There are also those who offered us the option of using heavy fuel oil which is Bunker C, and increasing our base load in Nassau so that we cannot use the amount of diesel oil that we are currently using.

“Just to give you an example of what BEC currently spends on fuel, The Bahamas, as a country spends $1 billion in the importation of fossil fuels and BEC by itself, buys $360 million.”

Wells said to further stress the government’s commitment to this cause the Ministries of Housing and Works addressed Parliament on the topic “Planning Our Electric Future.”

In this he quoted Minister of Environment & Housing Kenred Dorsette in saying, “implementing and advancing an achievable sustainable energy matrix for The Bahamas, together with sector legal reform is critical for us.

The legal framework would include the removal of legal impediments of exclusive rights in the generation and sale of electricity and the prohibition of self-generation and interconnection to the grid.”

Wells noted that Dorsette then outlined his Ministry’s plan to introduce measures as part of a plan to reduce electricity costs.

These plans include introducing a Renewable Energy Act that gives the capacity to liberalize the generation sector of the overall tripatheid supply of energy (generation/transmission/and distribution).

For this he said the government is looking at holding on to the transmission and distribution sides, while looking at how to liberalize the generation side to allow private sector consumers to get involved.

Also they will be creating an electricity sector regulator; establishing a sustainable energy unit in the Ministry of Housing and Works; developing a national review plan to evaluate the economic viability of moving power from one island to another, from larger to more efficient power plants; expanding incentives to reduce the demand for energy by measures such as increased use of solar and wind energy, using tankless heaters, solar water headers, using the most energy efficient appliances such as LED lights and air conditioning systems such as geo-thermal systems.

“And in addition we in Government have started a plan where we are looking at many of the driers that we use, to try to install various frequency driers so that when the demand is not high the air conditioning system does not need to be at 100 percent.

“And throughout the Government sector we are looking at ways we can implement variable frequency drives to help us in that regard.”

Another item on this plan he said is to introduce further reductions and or exemptions of customs duties on energy efficient appliances; and also to explore with the Ministry of Finance a program to encourage businesses to conduct independent energy audits of which the cost would be deducted from revenues that form the basis on which the business license, at present, must pay its business license fees.

The Parliamentary Secretary stated that with the assistance of the Inter American Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility, the government has also initiated two pilot projects, one being the distribution and installation of 100 solar water heaters and the second being 30 photovoltaic systems that produce electricity from solar panels.

He said that these pilot projects are meant to help demonstrate to the public the energy savings that can be generated by the use of alternative energy sources.

“So far 17 solar water heaters have been installed in new a government subdivision as a pre test,” Wells stated. “Reports are that these systems are very effective in the production of hot water for the homes in which they have been placed.

“Once the Ministry’s plans are completed and approved by cabinet and parliament, hundreds of investment opportunities will materialize in the renewable energy technology field, this translates to the availability of gainful employment for our people.

“Investment opportunities would be available in the supplying of renewable energy system parts, like solar panels, inverters, solar water heater tanks, wind and hydro system parts, panel bracket units assembling, which are used to attach panels to the roof of homes, and the installation of renewable energy systems. There is also the potential for major investment in the manufacturing and repair of parts, and the daily monitoring and maintenance of the various installed systems.”

 

Source: http://freeport.nassauguardian.net/national_local/307759699190328.php



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