Govt to target commercial solar in Family Islands over next decade
The government will provide more than $170 million to assist the introduction of commercial scale solar energy over the next decade, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday.
During the presentation of the 2019/2020 budget, Turnquest said, “In the area of energy conservation, one of the initiatives, adopted from our 2017 manifesto, is a move toward renewable energy, particularly in the Family Islands.
“To this end, the government is seeking, with the funding support of the multilateral community, to provide for over $170 million over the next 8 to 10 years to introduce commercial-scale solar energy opportunities throughout The Bahamas, with particular emphasis on the Family Islands.
“The full outline of this plan and how it fits into our broader energy strategy will be elaborated on during the budget debate.”
The finance minister also said the government will launch a project which “will facilitate the conversion of street lights to LED lights and the installation of a smart street light grid system with central controls”.
He said street lighting accounts for roughly three percent of the country’s overall energy consumption.
“This project is intended to reduce the cost of street lighting by 20 percent,” Turnquest said.
“In dollars, that translates into savings in the government’s electricity bill of approximately $3 million per year over the next two decades. It also obviously represents a corresponding reduction in the demand for fuel and the foreign exchange outflows that accompany same. In addition, the establishment of a smart street light grid with central controls will allow us to monitor conditions along the entire grid, including the ability to adjust lighting depending on overall system demands.”
He said the government intends to approve a $14.6 million loan with the Caribbean Development Bank to fund the project.
The government will provide $2.4 million in funding, according to the deputy prime minister.
Turnquest said the project will cost $17 million.
Lowering the cost of energy was something the Minnis administration promised as a high priority item coming into office, but the scrutiny on delivering that has intensified as Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) bills have increased due to, for the most part, rising oil prices.
In December 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis promised that the government will decrease the cost of energy for all residents and businesses in The Bahamas.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice