Categorized | National News

Gov’t Considering LNG

Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said yesterday that the Christie administration is once again actively pursuing the introduction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas as an alternative energy source.

Under the previous Christie administration, former Trade and Industries Minister Leslie Miller fought a firestorm of controversy when he pushed the idea.

At the time, three companies – AES Corporation, Tractebel and El Paso – were looking to establish LNG plants from Florida to Ocean Cay.

AES Corporation came the closest to having its plans finalised with a heads of agreement almost sealed.

If the then government had gone ahead with its LNG plans it would have stood to gain up to $50 million a year in revenue.

During his communication in the House of Assembly, Minister Dorsett said the government is already looking to get the framework in place to bring the alternative sources in The Bahamas.

“My ministry and the Attorney General’s Office will advance appropriate regulations with environmental safeguards in place. This government will be actively and responsibly considering the operation of plants for such energy sources to further reduce the cost of electricity for Bahamians,” he said.

Minister Dorsett admitted that the high cost of electricity causes untold hardships and the country to be un-competitive.

The minister said the government hopes to upgrade existing power generating equipment in hopes of cutting costs.

The aim is to save the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) about $100 million annually.

The government is also considering bringing in private sector assistance for BEC.

“The government has also received proposals from local and foreign interests including a take-over of or partial provision of the generating capacity by the private sector and the sale of electricity to BEC for on-sale to consumers, to outright purchase of BEC by private interests and the sale of electricity directly to consumers,” he said.

The Christie administration is also hoping to use other sources like waste to energy, ocean thermal, wind plants.

But Minister Dorsett said it would be ideal to capitalise on solar energy.

“With solar generated power, consumers may be encouraged to create renewable electricity for their own use with excess generation being sold back to BEC with new-billing arrangements. Imagine that Mr. Speaker, Bahamian businesses and homeowners getting a cheque from BEC rather than paying BEC,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, that is progressive and that is what we are fighting for. In time, we can become as ‘the islands in the sun’ for our tourism business as well as for power generation. The Bahamas can and will become a world leader in alternate and renewable energy, creating hundreds of new good paying jobs and new economic opportunities for Bahamians.”

The government also plans to amend the Electricity Act 1956 to incentivise private-public partnerships in the expansion or development of the country’s electricity infrastructure and sustainable energy goals.

“We must remove the legal impediments of exclusive rights for the generation and sale of electricity, the prohibition of self-generation and interconnection to the grid,” Minister Dorsett said.

Additionally, the government plans to introduce a renewable energy act; create an electricity sector regulator, establish a sustainable energy unit in the Ministry of Environment and Housing; develop a national review plan to evaluate the economic viability of moving power from one island to another from a larger and more efficient power plant and expand incentives to reduce the demand for energy by measures such as increased uses of solar and wind energy, tankless heaters, solar water heaters, the most energy efficient appliances and air-conditioning systems and other means.

The government also plans to introduce further reductions and/or exemptions on Customs duties on energy efficient appliances and explore – along with the Ministry of Finance – a programme to encourage businesses to conduct independent energy audits and encourage private sector electricity generation that can be sold to BEC.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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