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Darville asks GB Power Company to partner with Government in lowering electricity cost
By Simon Lewis, BIS
Sep 17, 2012 - 4:12:39 PM

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Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville speaking with top executives of Emera following the opening of their 52 mega watts, $80 million power plant on West Sunrise Monday morning. Pictured from left to right are: Chris Huskilson. CEO, Emera; Sarah MacDonald, President and CEO, Grand Bahama Power Company; Mr. Melvin Seymour, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Grand Bahama; and Dr. Darville. (BIS Photos / Simon Lewis)

Freeport, Bahamas – Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville on Monday, September 17 encouraged Emera, owner of the Grand Bahama Power Company, to buy into the Government’s plan to significantly reduce the cost of electricity on Grand Bahama Island.

Dr. Darville’s comments came as he participated in the official opening of Emera’s new $80 million 52 mega watts power plant on West Sunrise Highway.

He told the gathering that he was wholeheartedly convinced that one of the hindrances to the expansion of the industrial sector and the attraction of potential investors to Grand Bahama Island is the high cost of electricity.

“But, I am also convinced that the use of alternative forms of energy will bring real change to the cost of electricity and open new doors for the industrial sector to grow, thus attracting many foreign and domestic investors to Grand Bahama in the areas of light manufacturing, pharmaceutical industry and food processing. This will create thousands of sustainable jobs for Grand Bahamians.

“Therefore, I would like to urge the executives of Emera to partner with the government to determine the protocol involved with utilising alternative forms of energy and the feasibility of its use at your establishment.

“While the government appreciates your mammoth investment in power generation on Grand Bahama, we would like you to assist us in ensuring that Grand Bahama see a significant decrease in the price of electricity, which will mutually benefit all stakeholders, including your company,” he told top executives and other invited guests assembled for the opening.

Continuing, the Minister for Grand Bahama said he wants to encourage the Grand Bahama Power Company and Emera to “partner with the government to improve the economy of Grand Bahama and buy into our plans to significantly reduce the cost of electricity.”

He added that the Government is in the process of securing a number of investment projects that will undoubtedly revitalise the economy of Grand Bahama.

“However, in order to see many of these projects materialise, I am convinced that we need to think outside of the box and work together to determine the best means for ultimately reducing the high cost of electricity.

Grand Bahama, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville as he spoke at the commissioning of Emera’s $80 million West Sunrise Plant on Monday.

“The community, small businesses, the industrial and tourism sectors are all crying out for relief.  Therefore, we must work together to find short and long term solutions to this very challenging problem,” Dr. Darville said.

He had told the gathering that the Ministry for Grand Bahama was established shortly after the Progressive Liberal Party’s return to office, in order to address issues that are specific to Grand Bahama and to revitalise and restore the island’s ailing economy.

According to the Minister, it is the intent of the Government to rejuvenate Grand Bahama’s economy by attracting a mixture of substantial tourism projects, small Bahamian owned businesses, while encouraging environmentally sensitive industrial enterprises, expanding agriculture, mariculture and handicraft production, as well as low energy light manufacturing.

Dr. Darville acknowledged that over the past few years, the cost of oil has escalated throughout the world, and that consequently, countries like The Bahamas whose energy sector is highly dependent upon the use of fossils fuels are feeling the negative effects.

He said it is the government’s position to move away from complete dependency on liquid fossil fuels and begin exploring the use of compressed natural gas or LNG for power generation in order to lower the cost of energy throughout The Bahamas.

Presently, he advised that the Government is putting in place the necessary legislation to ensure that all regulatory bodies comply with the Government’s policy and that all meters used by power companies are examined, tested and calibrated to ensure that Bahamians are not overcharged for services.

“However, the Government recognises that it is imperative to develop new policies in order to reduce costs and currently we are taking many steps to do so. For this reason, we have established a National Energy Policy that will carry the country to 2030.

“This policy clearly indicates that the demand and usage of fossil fuels in The Bahamas must be reduced, in order for growth in industry to be realised.  We believe that tapping into sustainable and alternative sources of energy including ocean thermal and solar energy as well as existing renewable technology and waste to energy technology is the way forward,” he stated.

He told the gathering that although this will not happen overnight, that the Government’s energy plan has an energy matrix, which includes timelines of which the reduction of percentages of fossil fuel use will occur.

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