Out island solar projects ‘a step in the right direction’

Out island solar projects ‘a step in the right direction’
Debbie Deal, head of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation's (BCCEC) energy and environment division.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- A Chamber of Commerce executive has expressed optimism that steps ‘though slow’ are being made towards introducing renewables in the family islands, with Bahamas Power & Light earlier this month announcing more than 40 submissions from Independent Power Providers (IPP).

Debby Deal, head of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation’s (BCCEC) energy and environment division told Eyewitness News Online, “I think it’s a great step, a step in the right direction. They are on the road to obrining solar into the family islands to some extent. It’s eextremely slow, a little sloth like but at least its happening. I am certainly grateful asenergy and eenvironment director Im grateful that they are taking the steps.”

BPL had reported that more than three dozen potential Independent Power Providers (IPPs) downloaded tender documents during the Bahamas Power and Light Company Ltd. (BPL) Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop, finance, build, own and operate a solar photovoltaic (solar PV) and energy storage plant or a hybrid power plant on North & Central Andros, North Eleuthera, South Eleuthera and Inagua.

The company said that in the end, six companies submitted bids for Inagua; five companies submitted bids for North & Central Andros, and ten companies each submitted for the other two locations, North Eleuthera and South Eleuthera. Based on the addresses given, four of the six companies to submit bids for Inagua are Bahamian, as are three of those who submitted for North & Central Andros and five each of those who submitted for North Eleuthera and South Eleuthera.

All told, a total of 45 submissions are being reviewed. That review is in advancedstages. The RFP closed in July, and we anticipate awarding contracts in 2021, after thorough and exhaustive review,” the company said.

IPPs were asked to provide Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) offers for terms of 25 years. For the islands in question (North & Central Andros, North Eleuthera, South Eleuthera and Inagua) three options were available for proposals, daytime energy production with no storage, baseload 24- hour production with storage and a hybrid of the two that allowed for higher daytime production with baseload production outside of daylight hours.

Pursuant to the PPA, the project company will develop, finance, build, own and operate the new generation facility and will sell power to BPL, as its sole and only customer, on an Energy Only (kWh) basis. Our goal is that the proposed projects are commercially operable, including all facilities that are necessary to generate and deliver energy into the BPL grid, within nine months of Full Notice to Proceed. We’ve also made it clear that our preference is for use of local labor, goods and/or services sourced, in whole or in part, from one or more Bahamian businesses,” the company stated.

It added, “Under some of the options, we have mandated that capacity during both the daytime and 24- hour periods achieve at least 99 per cent availability for dispatching schedules. Where technically, operationally, and financially practical, BPL is seeking to phase out diesel engine generation and therefore IPP power plants must provide the required availability to assist in meeting the load during the daytime dispatch and the 24-hr dispatch periods. We have also mandated that site ownership must be transferred to BPL at the end of the contract period or upon the termination of the contract at fair market value for all offers, and that within a period of six years, at least 30 per cent of the project must be owned by individual Bahamians or a Bahamian owned Company.”


Deal told Eyewitness News Online that there were some IPP who dropped out of the process having expressed concern over some of the requirements. One IPP told told Eyewitness News, “After consultation with our energy partners we decided not to participate for reasons we are not prepared to go on record with.”