Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said that while solar power has been sent to the power grid on Ragged Island, the island is not still “solar-powered”, and it is unclear when that will be the case.
Bannister said there are still significant challenges on the island which was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
“We don’t want to say that all of Ragged Island is solar-powered,” he said.
“We want to say that we have transferred power to the grid and we are continuing the process.
“When you set these things up, it’s not necessarily that everything is moving in one day. But you can say that, yes, Ragged Island is ready to put power into the grid.”
“There’s a lot more challenges in Ragged Island than simply setting that up.
“…Many of the homes are not ready for connections. You’re going to see other challenges locally.”
Bannister, however, touted the progress on Ragged Island as a vision for how solar solutions could be implemented in The Bahamas.
“We are especially pleased with the progress on the Ragged Island microgrid, which represents the first solar baseload generation in BPL’s history, and which has already seen the first solar power sent from the solar field to the power grid as of last week,” Bannister said.
“Similar steps are planned for Andros, Eleuthera and Inagua, where together with Ragged Island, these plants will serve as a learning laboratory for BPL to allow for a better understanding of how to cost-effectively implement solar solutions in The Bahamas.”
The solar project on Ragged Island was initially expected to be completed by the end of December. However, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey reported in January that the project had been delayed due to Hurricane Dorian.
The engineering, procurement and construction contract was 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.
The damage caused on Ragged Island by Irma was so extensive that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) deemed the island “uninhabitable”. Scores of people left the island in the aftermath of that storm. However, some have since returned.
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.