Will we be left in the dark again?

Will we be left in the dark again?
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister speaking to members of the press outside Cabinet.

With mounting issues regarding The Bahamas and its future alongside with the nation’s chief, reporting on our position globally, still at the top of Bahaminas minds is a more practical issue – the ability to keep the lights on as we head into the summer month.

The concern comes in the midst of union threats as job cuts loom and aging equipment that seems to be stretched to the max still in rotation. its a concern even Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has as he returned from his week-long trip to Lima Peru and London.

The prime minister said to reporters, “Electricity is very important to us and we will do everything in our poser to ensure there is no loss of power because there are people who are sick and they need power for their medication, the schools use the computer system, it can affect the entire economy and it’s our job as government to protect the quality of life and improve the quality of life of the Bahamian populace.”

But despite two major power outages in New Providence last week, Works Minister Desmond Bannister said Sunday he is confident that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) has the capacity to “keep the lights on” this summer.

He admitted to Eyewitness News however, that aging equipment will be a challenge.

To combat this, Bannister said, rental generators are already in place and – in the long term – the works minister revealed that Shell Energy is building a new state-of-the-art plant to ensure blackouts are “few and far in between”.

Last week, it was announced that BPL awarded Shell Energy, otherwise known as Shell NA, the right to build a new generation and liquified natural gas (LNG) plant at Clifton Pier by 2021.

The move is said to be in response to the increasing demand for better use of renewable energy, hence lowering hefty electricity bills and minimizing power outages across the country.

Bannister said new legislation is also on the way to provide BPL with the money it needs to run effectively and efficiently.

“BPL is going to try and do their best but there are no promises,” Bannister said.

“You are going to see me come to Parliament with more amendments to legislation so that they can borrow the kind of money they need to provide permanent solutions.

“You have heard about Shell coming to The Bahamas. Over the next few years, you are going to see some amazing things happening at BPL that are going to make all Bahamians proud.

“The request for proposals (RFP) that BPL had, had two components. The first was short-term generation because Shell isn’t going to build a plant overnight, it doesn’t happen like that. So, we have an agreement for short term generation, where we saved a lot of money and we have those generators here. So, we don’t have to bring any more in.

“Long term generation is what Shell is going to be doing and that is going to take several years for them to build. They will build a state-of-the-art plant and we will have the kind of generation we need for many, many years to come.”

In a statement last Wednesday, BPL said, Shell NA proposed to establish a gas-to-power solution that would enable BPL to produce up to 270 megawatts (mw) of power generation.

BPL Officials said it is believed that this strategy will have a positive impact on consumers and the environment.

“In the board’s opinion, Shell NA’s commitment to power generation with the inclusion of LNG in BPL’s fuel mix, will provide long-term energy security, new employment opportunities for Bahamians, stimulate economic growth and the stabilization of customer rates,” the statement read.

“Shell NA trades and markets natural gas, wholesale power, environmental and risk management products with counterparties and customers around the world.”