Ragged Island solar power delayed again

Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) plan to introduce solar power to Ragged Island was again delayed after it failed to meet its January 2020 target, the company said in a press release yesterday.

The engineering, procurement and construction contract for the solar power project had been awarded to Tugliq Energy Co. and its construction partner, Salt Energy, in July 2019.

Waugh Construction, which is based in Freeport, Grand Bahama, was subcontracted to work on the project, which would be “taking place in stages” with the first stage being completion of the solar field, according to yesterday’s release.

However, in November – two months after Hurricane Dorian struck the northern Bahamas – the company announced that the project would be delayed until the end of January due to the unexpected impact of the storm.

Yesterday, BPL again pointed to Dorian as a cause for the delay.

“Bahamas Power and Light Company Ltd. confirms that the solar field in Ragged Island is complete,” the statement read.

“However, due to our response to the ravages of Abaco by Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, our timeline for getting solar power to the grid in Ragged Island has slipped.”

The release also specified that the delay was not on the part of the contractor, but rather on BPL’s end.

However, it noted that this “next phase” is expected to be completed in just a few weeks.

“Even though the solar installation contractor is in a position to meet its targets, BPL’s resource commitments in Abaco have meant that [we’re] unable to hit our January 2020 target,” BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said in the release.

“The solar field in Ragged Island is largely complete, save for final wiring, grounding and protection works, as well as finalizing inverter installation.”

The release went on to state: “Heastie explained that for the next phase, BPL is required to build overhead line interconnections for the solar field to the plant, which is expected to take one week once the work starts.

“Following that, the battery storage facility will be constructed at the plant, after which we expect an additional week will be necessary for works once the battery storage solution is complete.

“He added that BPL has identified the materials needed to complete its works, and is already staging provisioning of those materials in order to enable a single-step process, given the acknowledge logistical challenges getting into Ragged Island.”

In September 2017, Ragged Island was devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The damage was so extensive that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) deemed the island “uninhabitable”.

After the storm, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the island would become a green island.

However, there is still no government school, post office, administrator’s office, police station or clinic on Ragged Island, as all of those buildings were destroyed during the hurricane, and have yet to be repaired.

The government has pledged $12 million to restore public infrastructure on the island.

Exumas and Ragged Island MP Chester Cooper has remained vocal about the lack of progress on the island.

Last week Cooper told an Our News reporter the situation is “unfortunate” and urged government to “get the essential services in place, and then let the world know that Ragged Island is open for business”.

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