Exumas and Ragged Island Member of Parliament Chester Cooper yesterday praised the government’s announcement that it will deliver a solar plant for Ragged Island before the end of the year, but lamented how long it has taken to address the problem.
Ragged Island was ravaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017, destroying government infrastructure and homes.
The damage was so extensive that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has deemed the island “uninhabitable”.
Cooper has long called for the government to deliver on its promise of a “green city” for Ragged Island.
“I am pleased that after watching the people of Ragged Island suffer for the past two years, this government has decided to move on addressing some of the needs of the people,” Cooper said in a statement.
“The selection of a firm to build a solar generation facility on Ragged Island is welcome news. I fully support renewable energy and any effort at improving the lives of Ragged Islanders.”
Last week BPL announced that U.S.-based company Salt Energy LLC had been selected to build its first solar and battery storage solution.
According to the power company, 14 companies made the shortlist for the Ragged Island RFP, including two Bahamian joint ventures.
The facility is expected to produce in excess of 90 percent of the energy requirements for the island when completed.
Cooper said he is unfamiliar with the company and has questions.
“We note that we are not familiar with the company chosen, its expertise, or its principals, or whether there any local ‘partners’, and will wait to see what results from this undertaking,” he said.
“We also question why this project will only cover 90 percent of the needs of Ragged Islanders, there are not so many people that the other 10 percent should prove difficult to cover.
“We would also be very interested to know the specific cost of this project.”
Cooper also noted that Ragged Islanders are still suffering in the aftermath of the hurricane.
“Maybe now that Ragged Island has the attention of the government, she can finally have a teacher so that children don’t have to be educated away from their families,” he said.
“A nurse, a police officer and a public administration building are also critical among the needs of Ragged Islanders.
“While we exercise continued patience with this administration, we shall be closely watching the construction of this facility, and eagerly anticipating the December 31, 2019 deadline for completion.”