‘No Reason To Delay’ Renewable Energy Until 2014


There is “no reason” for the Government to delay decisions on renewable energy proposals until 2014, a leading proponent yesterday calling for it to reintroduce the recently-withdrawn tender for Family Island project.


Guilden Gilbert, the Bahamas Renewable Energy Association’s president, questioned why the Government’s BEC Request for Proposals (RFPs) had seemingly relegated alternative energy providers to the ‘second phase’ of industry liberalisation.


Explaining that the Association and its members wanted the Family Island renewable energy RFP, which was pulled by the Government, to “progress”, Mr Gilbert told Tribune Business: “I see no reason for the delay. Why wait until 2014?


“That’s something the Government should look at. They could introduce the Energy Task Force RFP for the Family Islands, which was something our group had already submitted under.


“For me, renewable is something of no brainer, especially if we’re going to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. I know the Government have a number of proposals on the table for the Family Islands, and I thought they would have moved forward faster on that stuff.


“Nassau tends to subsidise the Family Islands. Renewables could, I wouldn’t say would, but could fix the cost of power in the Family Islands for a long period of time. You don’t have any more inflation and fluctuation in the rates of power.”


The Christie administration has effectively placed renewable power producers on the ‘back burner’ as it moves to sort out what it perceives as more pressing needs at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), and the need to reduce energy costs for most Bahamian businesses and consumers.


Its BEC RFP reads: “While the Government is actively planning to implement a Residential Self-Generation programme in the short term, it expects to address proposals for the renewable power production sector in 2014 as part of a second phase of reforms (once this first phase has been completed).”


While backing moves to liberalise/deregulate the Bahamian energy sector, via the privatisation of power generation and a management contract for BEC’s transmission/distribution business, Mr Gilbert said the whole process required “complete transparency and a fully detailed” RFP.


Suggesting that renewable energy integration into the Bahamas’ electricity mix should have been “part and parcel” of the BEC-related reforms, Mr Gilbert questioned if the Government was delaying this aspect to preserve the Corporation’s value and attraction for private sector suitors.


Calling for the Government to also push forward with “grid tie” legislation, and net metering and billing, which would allow homeowners to sell excess power to the utility supplier, Mr Gilbert also urged it to publish a National Energy Policy.


“That should be the document that comes out first,” he told Tribune Business. “There has to be a National Energy Policy otherwise we’re working in the blind, working in the dark, so to speak.


“We need a National Energy Policy to know what the ultimate target is and how to get there. The National Energy Policy has been worked on for the last few years, so the initial template should be there


“Numerous Caribbean countries have their own National Energy Policy, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The National Energy Policy is a key document for taking this country forward with regard to energy efficiency.”