NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government is eyeing microgrids and an underground network as it grapples with powering the hurricane-ravaged Abacos, according to Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister.
Bannister underscored BPL’s infrastructure in Abaco, from Sandy Point to Treasure Cay, was “obliterated” during the passage of deadly Hurricane Dorian.
“There is a plan in place to create micro grids in cooperation with a number of private sector entities,” Bannister told reporters.
He spoke during a Ministry of Education press conference announcing the opening of schools in the affected areas.
“There are a number of entities that want to generate power and to generate renewable energy in a number of the cays, and BPL is working closely with those entities to ensure that we can create the microgrids,” Bannister said.
“For those of you who don’t know, these are going to have to be grids that essentially bypass Mash Harbour.”
Bannister noted that the level of destruction in that area was so great, close to 3,000 electricity poles were down after the storm.
“So there is a plan to generate electricity by means of creating microgrids and by utilizing the undersea cable, to send power from a number of places on the mainland to those cays,” he continued.
The public works minister said there is also a plan in place to ensure North Abaco has sufficient power supply.
“BPL will be seeking to create generation some place north of Marsh Harbour, probably in the area of the new port, to put some generation there to be able to power North Abaco,” Bannister said.
“That is the challenge that they are working on now. These are engineering challenges. They are putting a number of employees on the ground in Abaco. They have assistance from several other countries that are providing linesmen and other workers to come in and help and so they are very optimistic that they are going to be able to generate power in North Abaco very soon.”
As for Marsh Harbour, Bannister said the plan is to “create an underground network, in relation to a number of substations and provide power for different areas of Abaco and the cays through that network”.
Bannister could not provide a timeline on when works on the island could be completed. He noted that there are “hugely challenging issues” that will take time to address.
He added initial estimates for the island could cost BPL between $80 million and $90 million.
“Part of that is because they are looking to do some of the infrastructure in the Marsh Harbour area underground, and when you get into that underground work, and a number of cays are also demanding underground infrastructure, you can anticipate that the cost is multiplied by two to three times what it would normally cost for the overhead wires,” he said.