NASSAU, The Bahamas – The need for reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable generation and distribution of energy sources is of paramount important to the Government of The Bahamas. In a bid to overcome the many challenges in the country’s energy sector, Minister of the Environment and Housing, the Hon. Kendred Dorsett said that the government is continuing to advance its agenda of meeting this objective.
The Minister was addressing attendants of a seminar on energy sustainability held at the auditorium of the Harry C. Moore Library at the University of The Bahamas on Thursday, November 17. The event, of the University of The Bahamas in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank and the GEF Small Grants Programme (UNDP), was held under the theme: ‘A Conversation on Energy: Towards a Sustainable Future.’
“We all have, at one time or another, dealt with power outages and know of the frustration and discomfort that is caused not to mention how it hinders productivity,” said Minister Dorsett. “Energy is a resource that is not only imperative to the comfortable living of our citizens but is vital to the attraction and success of investments thereby making it imperative to the economic growth of The Bahamas. It is a challenge that the Government takes very seriously and has made great strides in attempting to bring resolution to.”
He said that the government is cognizant of the realities in the energy sector, and to that end, has made several strides in reforming the sector. The Minister said that in 2013, the Prime Minister outlined the Government’s intentions to reform the nation’s energy sectors to meet certain objectives.
Those goals included providing energy supplies to consumers that will meet long-term growth demands for energy; increasing international competitiveness in production in order to promote economic development and job creation; utilizing economically viable renewable energy sources to promote environmental sustainability; providing long term energy security to producers and consumers increasing Bahamians’ awareness of energy its use and conservation. He said that much has been done since the release of the Prime Minister’s statement.
He said in September 2014, the National Energy Policy 2013-2033 document was released to the public. The document outlined several key goals including: the general awareness of Bahamians of the importance of energy conservation; modern energy infrastructure, which would enhance energy generation capacity; the outcome that the Bahamas would become a world leader in providing opportunities in the energy sector; and more
dynamic and appropriate governance, institutional, legal and regulatory framework, which would advance future developments in the energy sector.
Since 2013, Minister Dorsett said that several other initiatives have also commenced. He said that the Government has joined several international organizations such as the Carbon War Room and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA is “an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.”
And just recently, he added that the Government signed the Paris Agreement, which came into force on November 4th, 2016. This agreement binds countries around the world to limit their green house gas emissions in an effort to mitigate climate change.
“In an effort to advance the deployment of renewable energy sources in the country the Government eliminated tariffs on solar panel inverters and LED appliances and bulbs. With the assistance of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Ministry of the Environment and Housing was able to advance two pilot projects devised to collect data on renewable energy technologies. The first project provided for the installation of solar water heaters and the second project for the installation of photovoltaic systems in Bahamian homes. The latest homes to receive this technology are located in the Strachan’s Hills Subdivision where three homes have photovoltaic systems,” said Minister Dorsett.
In January 2015, the Government amended the Electricity Act. This move ushered in a new era in energy generation in the country. This legislation gave the Minister responsible for BEC the power, in consultation with the Minister responsible for alternative energy, the power to approve the “installation or operation by a person of a generating station using solar, wind or such other renewable energy sources as may be prescribed in regulations.
The Government also sought a strategic partner in restructuring the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) into a more modern organization with the hopes of lowering the cost of energy and providing energy for the country in a more efficient and environmentally sustainable manner. Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) is now managed by Power Secure with the mandate to improve the generation and transmission of electricity while reducing its carbon footprint and lowering the cost of electricity for Bahamians.
“The reformation of the energy sector has been one of the largest and complex issues that this administration has taken on,” he said. “The progress that has been made through the advancement of legislation, policy and programs is a remarkable start to a long and arduous journey toward a secure energy future for The Bahamas.”