A company has unveiled plans to build a power plant off the coast of Grand Bahama and generate electricity at up to 40 percent cheaper than the Grand Bahama Power Company.
Texas-based Waller Marine, a company which specializes in building barges to house generating plants, said the unit will be based off-shore and powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Planners hope the project will create almost 400 jobs, which, coupled with the promise of cheaper electricity, could bring a much-needed boost to the local economy.
Community activist and businessman Troy Garvey revealed the move at a press conference. With him were representatives of Waller Marine, Deco Jones, a Florida-based manufacturer of waste to energy systems, and Montreal Manor Investments (Bahamas) Ltd.
Garvey, of Troy Garvey and Associates, said he and partners Waller Marine have met with the Minister of Grand Bahama Dr. Michael Darville and Deputy Prime Minister Phillip Davis to introduce the new form of energy.
It is proposed to use a vessel to load LNG from existing terminals, liquefaction facilities or traditional carriers and transport it to existing tanks, trucks or marine vessels using LNG as a fuel.
The barge, they said, will be equipped for regasification of LNG directly to a pipeline or to a power plant. An additional feature is said to be the use of natural gas as a fuel in the dual fuel engines of the tug to drive the tug-barge unit.
The benefit of the LNG Articulated Tug and Barge Regas Vessel (ATB RV) is that it allows LNG to be moved and delivered more efficiently on a small-scale basis in locations where large LNG infrastructure would be cumbersome, costly and time consuming.
Garvey stated: “After all the many years of fighting and wrestling with the Grand Bahama Power Company, it brings great pleasure to our hearts to know that we have found a solution to create a new cleaner affordable and reliable power distribution to bring to the people of this country.
“I personally am thankful to Mario Moreno of Deco Jones and Rondi Knowles of Montreal Manor to have the trust in me to lead this way. We have found this necessary to make this happen in The Bahamas today. We always try to find the solution for easier light bills and this is the way forward.”
Anthony Waller, of Waller Marine, explained the project they are proposing is in two phases.
“First, we build power plants on barges,” he said. “It is kind of how Henry Ford built cars in a factory. We build a power plant in a shipyard. We are going to talk to the shipyards here in Grand Bahama to build the power plants, which will bring jobs to the community.
“The key to our project is powering it with LNG. This gas in the U.S. is very low cost and we can supply fuel at a much lower cost than fuel oil. Between our solutions in supplying LNG to the power plant and the way we build the power plant, we can provide energy at a lower cost.”
Waller said the way they construct the plant lowers the cost stating that they are using a technology from Rolls Royce called a Trent 60 gas turbine which he said is very fuel-efficient.
“We build it in a shipyard, which is like building in a shop environment where you have the technical expertise, which saves cost. By fueling it with LNG what saves gas, we liquefy it and then we have a unique transportation system.
“We transport it on articulated tug barges and provide a floating storage solution instead of building a land based traditional terminal. The combination of the power plant power with LNG allows us to produce fuel at a lower cost.”
He said they proposed to build the power plant, while building the barge hull somewhere else and assembling and building the complex part by employing local people to build it here. However he said they will need site infrastructure, dock and mooring systems and are expecting to employ 300-400 people for six – seven months during the construction.
Waller said their training program intends to employ local Bahamians to operate the plant.
“We will implement a training program and train local people to be the actual operators of the power plant,” he continued. “There’s many misconceptions of LNG, in this country propane is used. LNG is much safer than propane and is actually one of the safest gases in the world.”
Mario Moreno, CEO, Deco Jones Investment, said they are proposing this project to Grand Bahama and Nassau as a solution to the energy crisis.
“We are looking forward to bringing the price down approximately 40 percent. We have secured funding for the project 100 percent, its not going to cost the country a dime for us to do this project but you will reap its benefits of it.”
Rondi Tener-Knowles, representative of Montreal Manor Bahamas Limited, then said he and Moreno have sought to find a solution for this problem over the last two years.
He stated that it was a long process with Deco Jones, and they have finally found a company to assist in Waller Marine.
“We have sought many companies throughout the U.S, Canada and the U.K and we finally saw it fit that Waller Marine is the company we would bring to The Bahamas,” he continued. “I feel very confident about Waller Marine and of course I feel, with the meetings that we have had with The Bahamas government and the Minister of Grand Bahama, they feel comfortable with them as well.”
Tener-Knowles said that the LNG technology is proven as they have built plants in Venezuela and other places.
Attempts were made to contact the Minister of Grand Bahama to ascertain his position, but he was unavailable for comment.
A spokesman for the Port Authority’s Corporate Communications was unaware of this project and was unable to comment.
Philcher Grant of the Grand Bahama Power Company said: “We are conducting a comprehensive study to find an alternative energy option to decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. This remains a priority for the Grand Bahama Power Company.
“While we are investigating all options, we are open to all options including party’s meeting with us with their proposals. We will only investigate those solutions that are proven to be viable, sustainable and best possible choice for our customers.”
By Yasmin Popescu and Georgio Russell