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BPL to relinquish generation obligations; focus on transmission, distribution, customer service

With the addition of Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) seven new, tri-fuel Wartsila engines and pending the finalization of negotiations with Shell North America, the country’s power provider will be relinquishing its generation obligations to Shell in order to focus on transmission, distribution and customer service, the company’s Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said yesterday during a press conference at the Nassau Container Port.

Speaking to the press with three of BPL’s 323-ton engines towering behind him, Moxey explained that handing over its generation obligations to Shell is part of BPL’s “brand new strategic outlook”.

Besides the building of a 220-megawatt liquefied natural gas (LNG) capable power plant, Moxey said BPL will also begin to focus more on embracing renewables.

“With renewables and a gas-to-power plant, we will have cleaner, more reliable energy in The Bahamas,” he said.

He added that a utility-scale renewable energy project will begin in the Family Islands and eventually reach New Providence. Small-scale renewable generation systems on New Providence are already being tied into the grid and are feeding energy back to BPL.

Meantime, new Wartsila engines are expected to create reliable power for New Providence and quell the vexing blackouts that are frequent in the summer months,.

BPL Executive Director Patrick Rollins said when the new engines are finally installed at the Clifton power station, New Providence’s base load will return to that location. He added that the engines will lead to lower operating costs for BPL, lower costs to customers and create a pathway to cleaner, less expensive energy.

“It is a long-needed light to the end of a dark tunnel,” Rollins said.

Rental generators at the Baillou Hills power station now shore up the island’s power grid, but could not do enough to support failing engines at Clifton.

Moxey said in order to reduce the number of power issues this summer, BPL has ordered 25 megawatts of additional generation.

BPL will be able to reduce the number of rental generators it currently uses when the seven new Wartsila generators are finally installed and commissioned. Moxey said the rental units cost BPL millions per year.

He added that some of the rental units will be sent to the Family Islands that are in need of supplemental generation, until those islands can be “backfilled with additional generation”.

One of those islands could be Bimini, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday, after giving an update on a fire at BPL’s power plant on the island that crippled two of the company’s engines.

He commented on the new Wartsila engines, explaining that they will be replacing engines that have served New Providence for a combined lifespan of 200 years.

“The very existence of our country depends on the reform of BPL and we have been able to get there incrementally,” said Bannister.

“Energy sector reform is a critical part of this administration’s agenda. BPL is at the heart of that reform agenda.”

Bannister said the innovation and attention BPL is demonstrating with its new, strategic outlook and new leadership will help to improve the country’s ranking in the “obtaining electricity” category of the Ease of Doing Business index “dramatically over the next few years”.

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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