Financial Secretary: Government proposing SPV for commercial solar generation in the Family Islands

Government keen on Bahamian ownership of renewable sector

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The government is proposing to establish a special purpose vehicle to allow for commercial solar generation particularly in the family islands according to Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson, who noted that it is the government’s policy that solar generation be ‘owned by Bahamians for the benefit of Bahamians’.

Johnson who last evening addressed an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) public consultation over the funding and advancement of renewable energy in The Bahamas noted that the government intends to invest upwards of $170 million over the medium term in implementing a renewable energy strategy.

Johnson noted that with the amount of sunshine this nation enjoys year round, it is a ‘no brainer’ to look at solar technology.

“One of the things we want to do it is do it in a way that makes sense,” Johnson said.

“The solar energy of popular mythology isn’t the solar energy of realty. Yes solar is viable and must be included but has to be done in a way that makes environmental sense and economic sense. It has to be done in a way that can be supported and sustained. We can’t have a wholesale changeout to solar right now.”

Johnson noted that while the government was developing tis solar generation strategy, Hurricane Dorian same along.

“While all this was being developed Dorian came along and one of the  things that happened subsequent to the passage and devastation fo Dorian was a rethink of the program,” he said.

“Now the program has two dimensions. One of the dimensions is to assist with the full rebuild of Abaco and elements in East Grand Bahama from a power standpoint to make sure we include solar generation in Abaco and possibly East rGand Bahama.

“We also want to ensure that the transmission and distribution isn those islands are more resilient, see what can go underground with and what we  do differently.”

He further noted that the government believes there is a lot of work to be done and ought to be done to ensure there is an enabling environment to support solar generation.

Johnson pointed out that a key policy imperative is that solar generation be owned by the Bahamian people for the benefit of Bahamians.

“The thinking the government holds to, is to avoid the model where you have large foreign ownership of solar plants. That may save money but the same money you save on oil imports would now go to returns for foreign investors. The whole idea is the government has taken the policy position that the ownership of it should be in Bahamian hands.”

He continued: “The methodology behind that is in the first instance to create a special purpose vehicle that will allow commercial solar generation at least throughout the family islands with the view at some point to divest to the Bahamian people in whole or in part.

“That’s strictly for the generation. Distribution will be done by the utility companies.”