“MAJOR INITIATIVES”: BPL power generation challenges to be addressed

“MAJOR INITIATIVES”: BPL power generation challenges to be addressed
The Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) headquarters.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears said yesterday that government has undertaken a number of major initiatives and strategic changes to address Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) power generation challenges in the medium and long term. 

Speaking with reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting yesterday on BPL’s ongoing challenges Sears noted that there are several legacy issues impacting the operations of the power company.

He explained: “It has a very aged power generation system that poses significant challenges. However, the good thing is that we have a talented and innovative technical team that manages to keep these old engines running by reconditioning them and implementing other necessary measures.

“One such initiative is the recent commissioning of a 25 MW battery energy storage system, which is expected to save BPL $3 million each month in fuel costs.

“Additionally, BPL commissioned a utility-scale solar system in Ragged Island a year ago. In the upcoming period, 2023/2024, BPL plans to construct two 10 MW utility-scale solar facilities. These facilities, along with power purchase agreements with private solar providers, will enhance BPL’s resilience,” Sears revealed, noting that BPL is prioritizing energy conservation.

“Measures such as installing LED lights fixtures are being implemented. BPL is also preparing itself for the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and aims to incorporate LNG in its power generation. In addition to these initiatives, BPL is implementing smart metering and will conduct pilot projects to improve efficiency within the corporation.

“To support these endeavors, BPL is increasing its human resource capacity by hiring 35 lines-persons, reinstating the apprenticeship program, and actively recruiting young talented Bahamians seeking to become professionals in the industry,” said Sears.

He added that while various strategic measures are being taken, changes will not happen overnight.

Responding to concerns over power supply challenges in Abaco, Sears noted: “In Abaco, there was an issue with the weather, which affected both the distribution and generation capacity. Similar situations occurred in Acklins and Mayaguana.

“To address the issue in Abaco, additional engines are being sent. In Acklins, a 300 KW engine is being dispatched to Salina Point, and a 500 KW engine is being sent to Crooked Island to enhance resilience. The skilled technicians at BPL deserve credit for their expertise in working with old engines that have exceeded their manufactured lifespan. Through their ingenuity, these technicians and engineers at BPL recondition the engines and put them back into operation.”

Sears also reported that negotiations are underway with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to secure a $9 million grant for establishing Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) systems in The Bahamas.

He further noted that BPL and the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) are undertaking a strategic overhaul to become more nimble and foster innovation on the ground. This involves designing business plans to facilitate this transformation.

“The government is considering LNG as a clean energy solution, and BPL is retrofitting its engines to accommodate and utilize LNG. Soon, there will be announcements regarding the adoption of LNG, solar power, and incentives for solarizing homes, businesses, and other establishments in The Bahamas,” Sears said.

According to the minister, Government has made a commitment to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and will establish micro-grids in Clifton, Cooked Island, Mayaguana, Long Cay in Acklins, and East Grand Bahama, as well as on government buildings in New Providence.