OPINION: LNG could replace BPL

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) seems intent upon forcing us to pay more for electricity than is necessary or affordable for the average Bahamian. Every day, people tell me about having to choose between paying their light bill and other important bills and expenses, and yet there is no good reason for this.

The senior BPL officials have gone on a media offensive to explain their woes and try and win over the public. Well, it ain’t happening. First of all, they can’t cry about the difficulties of generating power in The Bahamas as if they didn’t know all that when they took over the management of BEC a few years ago. Yet they promised us the moon. Now here we are, power more expensive than ever, as unreliable as ever, and no solution anywhere in sight.

The fact of the matter is, the system we have of generating electricity is outdated, outmoded, inefficient and costly, full stop. No new generator, new operating system, etc, is ever going to fix that. Burning dirty fossil fuels to generate electricity will always result in high light bills.

In the face of these facts, you would think the geniuses over at BPL would try and get us off this merry-go-round of heavy, dirty fuels and inefficient, expensive electricity. But no, what do they do? They go and agree to allow Shell, one of the top representatives of the old way of doing things out at Clifton Pier, to build yet another dirty, diesel and oil-burning power plant, with a little Liquefied Natural Gas thrown into the mix. Basically, a license to give Bahamians more of the same forever.

Liquid natural gas (LNG) is cleaner, cheaper and more efficient. It is the key to lower light bills in the short term, and crucial as a bridge to renewable energy in the future. So, why wouldn’t BPL opt to approve a 100 per cent LNG facility, instead of Shell’s half-baked proposal to keep things more or less how they are now?

Certainly, there were alternative proposals on the table, by Bahamians who were partnering with global leaders in the cutting-edge LNG business. Proposals that would have built a new, more efficient plant in far less time that the 2022 projected deadline for Shell’s facility, which basically means we have to wait four years for whatever measly savings Shell MIGHT be able to get us. By then, the surcharge and cost of oil will probably be so high that our bills will go up, not down.

 

Sincerely,

Ricardo Johnson

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