Alternative Energies To Meet Eleuthera Utilities Demand

Wednesday 18th, May 2011 / 17:52 Published by

The rising cost to transport fuel to The Bahamas is now embedded in the price of fuel which is now above $5 per gallon, and over $6 a gallon in the Family Islands. (BIS Photo / Gena Gibbs).

Eleuthera, The Bahamas – Expanding utilities infrastructure in Eleuthera has challenged Government to use alternative energies to meet the demand in a timely manner.  On May 5, Rock Sound residents got an explanation about why utilities construction takes so long to complete, after a contract has been signed.

“We are looking at further expanding the RO Plant there to address Northern Eleuthera in the future and so we’re looking at improving the entire island in regards to the supply of water,” said Phenton Neymour, Minister of State for the Environment.

Mr. Neymour told residents that in critical planning for the future, the supply of electricity is always a challenge. He noted that even though some planned developments are taking place in Eleuthera, there were no plans for utilities.

“I’m of the view that if you’re going to plan a new development, have a new hotel, or have a new resort, the first thing one should consider is the supply of electricity and water and ensure it is adequate.”

He said Eleuthera’s challenges occurred because the utilities were not put in first.  The two major islands that had experienced utilities expansion problems were Abaco and Eleuthera.  BEC was losing $7 million a year in Abaco as well as an additional $7 million a year in Eleuthera, irrespective of the light bill.

“We had to expand the facilities here.  It required money.  It required some $30 million to put together the power plant in Hatchet Bay to add to the supply you currently were having,” said Mr. Neymour.

“The problem is this.  We had to first of all find the $30 million for BEC, who was broke.  And the second problem was when you order these generators, the waiting time for these generators is up to one year.  Once you place your order today, you got to wait a year.  Then, you have to deal with the construction of the facility, which also takes time.  And so, if you sign a contract today, it could take you two and a half years before you begin to generate electricity and that’s the challenge we have with Eleuthera.

BEC is now operating the plant.  The government is still challenged with supplying North Eleuthera and envisions that within a month to have conquered the major issues affecting the government in Northern Eleuthera.

“The government over the last three to four years has made a significant investments on the island of Eleuthera.  The $30 million for the BEC plant and the RO plant that you are now getting,” said Mr. Neymour.

“We had to put together a plan for the future of The Bahamas.  I’m an engineer and one of the first things we are taught to do is to plan, prepare, design and then construct. Then operate.”

Minister Neymour said the plan for a national energy policy is in preparation for the future and because the cost of gasoline and oil and diesel is rising.  In The Bahamas, 99 percent of the energy is by petroleum products. In 2008, oil went up to $147 a barrel and gasoline went up to almost $6 a gallon.

“We are headed there again,”  said the minister.

By Gena Gibbs


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