Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister yesterday defended Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) decision regarding a $95 million contract with Finnish technology group Wartsila for a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at the Clifton Pier site.
“The Wartsila deal is going to have us get rid of this rental generation that’s been there for so long,” said Bannister outside Parliament.
“It’s going to be very important for the Bahamian people.
“It’s going to be a new paradigm in terms of power generation in our country and it’s going to make a wonderful difference for all of us over the next few years.
“What is going to be required is some patience because those generators have to be shipped to The Bahamas.
“Those generators are so huge, when you see them come here, it will actually take a day to get them from the ports to Clifton, and just to get them there, it’s going to require tremendous disruption in the road, in the traffic.
“But for your life, for my life, for your family and your children, it’s going to make a huge difference for all of us, but it is going to require some patience.
“The media in our country and the Bahamian people have seen what we have gone through and to see that BPL has come this far, in what is a relatively short period of time, speaks well of what they are doing now there in management.”
BPL announced on Monday that the project is expected to be completed this year and will lead to more reliable electricity supply and lower fuel charges on customers’ monthly bills.
The money for the project will come from BPL’s capital works that were deferred in favor of this new generation.
BPL has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell Gas and Power Development B.V. for a gas-to-power project.
The MOU established Shell as the project developer for the power project, which will include the development of marine infrastructure to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG), a gas pipeline to bring gas to shore, an onshore LNG regasification terminal and a new gas-fire 220-plus megawatt power plant.
Shell, which would become an independent power producer (IPP), was said to be covering the cost of constructing the plant, which was reportedly expected to be upwards of $100 million.
Asked yesterday why BPL is footing the bill for the recently announced project, Bannister said, “Shell is partnering with Wartsila. Anything that Shell does is complementary to Wartsila. They are complementary; they are working together.
“It’s all being done in stages and you are going to see it come together in a wonderful way to make a difference for you and make your life more comfortable. It requires a partnership that is being worked on in stages, that’s all.”
Pressed on the matter, Bannister said, “There’s a whole plan that BPL has that I’m sure the CEO and chairman will be happy to share all of the particulars with you.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications