Had the Minnis administration honored the deal struck by the previous Christie administration with New Fortress to bring liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the country, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) could have avoided its current predicament, Chairperson of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy and Environment Committee Deborah Deal said yesterday.
“Had the government even entertained it, August or September, maybe October at the latest in 2017, we at least would have had lower fuel costs which would have actually in my opinion given BPL the income to actually do repair work and maintenance work,” she told Guardian Business.
Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said last year that days before the 2017 general election, the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration had reached advanced negotiations for the introduction of LNG to power electricity in The Bahamas. However, the former administration held off on announcing the deal because of the close election date.
Deal said the chamber was aware of and supported the deal.
“Because we thought it was such a good thing for the country, we actually sent the current administration the same thing the [former administration] was going to announce,” she said.
“That information the chamber passed on to this new government. We could have been up and running in four to five months – proven in Barbados, proven in Jamaica, proven in the Dominican Republic – and our prices would have been from 17 to 19 cents at no expense to the government. And we could have avoided all of this, but instead, they decided to do another RFP for backup generation, but as you see now the backup generation is now the main generation and we’re still in bed with Agrekko.”
Deal said things don’t add up and she believes there’s more to the narrative BPL is painting about its woes.
“They talk about what they’re going to do with Shell in the future, but it still hasn’t come to signing a contract yet. They keep saying in the papers that Shell advised them on purchasing engines, what does that really mean? So, Shell is still in there trying to get the contract signed but the contract still is not signed,” she said.
Last year, the government announced a deal with Shell North America to operate a new LNG plant at Clifton Pier.
However, in March, BPL announced that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton Pier at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.