The government will use $70 million of the proceeds from its rate reduction bond to fund the expansion of the Wartsila plant at Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Clifton location, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister revealed yesterday.
Bannister said the second phase of the Wartsila facility is expected to be on stream by 2021.
The first phase is expected to come on stream next month.
Yesterday was the first time the public learned that the Wartsila facility would be expanded.
“The phase two expansion of the Wartsila generation facility will bring an additional 90 megawatts of capacity online for a total of 222 megawatts,” Bannister said during a communication in the House of Assembly.
The minister said the new facility will result in “reduced electricity rates to consumers through lower fuel charges given increased efficiency and cheaper, cleaner fuels, including the ability to accept LNG”.
“Added capacity will eliminate the need for rolling load shedding/brownouts,” Bannister said.
He said it is an investment in Bahamian power requirements for “the long-term”.
Bannister described the new power plant as something “we desperately need”.
The revelation came during debate for the Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill, 2019.
The bill aims to establish a legislative framework for BPL to raise $650 million through a rate reduction bond.
According to Bannister, $321.1 million of the funds raised will be used to refinance BPL’s debt, $28 million for solar installations on the Family Islands, $15 million to convert Family Island generation facilities to liquefied natural gas, $15 million for fiberglass cooling pipe replacement, $30 million for an advanced metering infrastructure project and $6 million for system reinforcement and customer connections.
He also said that $48.1 million will be used for 132-kilovolt transmission and substation upgrades, $34.9 million for line upgrades and extensions, $24.7 million for other substation upgrades and $14.3 million for 34.5-kilovolt line upgrades.
In March, BPL announced that Wartsila would install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.
That is projected to be operational on December 15.