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A Bahamian renewable energy solutions provider has described a week of efforts to clear power-saving lightbulbs with Customs at the Arawak Cay dock as a "maddening exercise", which draws into question just how serious the Government is about encouraging Bahamians to reduce their energy bills.
Philip Holdom, executive manager of Integrated Security Services (ISS), said: "Either the Government needs to drop the tariffs they are trying to levy, or they need to stop going around saying we are promoting energy efficiency. As it is, they either appear to be ignorant, or hypocrites."
BAHAMIAN suppliers of energy efficient equipment and technology are “finding it very difficult to function” because of the inconsistent treatment their imported products receive from the Customs Department, a former Chamber of Commerce president said yesterday, with some shipments allowed in duty-free and others charged the full 45 per cent.
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
THE Bahamian hotel industry could slash around $50 million off its annual energy bill if it implemented practices to become more energy efficient, a government minister has estimated, with draft legislation to facilitate "small scale" independent power production now under review.
Addressing an Energy Efficiency Forum organised jointly by the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) and Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), Phenton Neymour referred to a report by the German consultants, Fichtner, which had shown that Bahamian hotels could enjoy savings of between 49-63 per cent on their existing power bills by implementing a ...
In our last article, we began the discussion of what is a national energy policy and why The Bahamas must consider its formulation and implementation as a matter of national importance. Over the past week, the government has made some encouraging remarks that indicate it does in fact recognize its significance and it is actively considering the various avenues to bring a national energy policy to fruition.
In this week's article, we discuss the current governmental initiatives that are being used in formulating such a plan and discuss some of the potential economic and social benefits as well as the costs that we can expect to incur.
What can be done
To its credit, successive Bahamian governments (both the current and former administrations) have already initiated this discussion, aptly captured in the BEST Commission's "Second Report of the National Energy Policy Committee" that was released in 2010.
The report focused mainly on the electricity and transportation sectors, which are the primary users of fossil fuels in our country, with the aim of reducing our dependency through energy efficiency and the utilization of renewable energy sources.
It seems the government is sincere in its desire to develop and implement a sustainable energy matrix for the country by 2030 with the goal of having renewable energy technologies account for at least 30 percent of our overall power supply. The year 2030 is only 17 years away. While this is admittedly a relatively very short period of time, we only need to look to cases such as Denmark's successful and similarly quick transformation of its energy industry as a guide.
Now internationally renowned for its use of wind power technology, Denmark (like The Bahamas) was 100 percent dependent on fossil fuels and became painfully aware of its need to develop an energy policy after the oil crisis of the 1970's. While wind power is its primary source of renewable energy, this country, which is comprised of many small islands (sounds familiar?), also employs solar technology and has aggressively embraced the idea of independent power producers (IPPs) to help it meet its ever increasing electricity needs.
Between 1997 and 2007, Denmark fostered an environment that resulted in roughly 43 percent of its electricity needs being sourced from IPPs.
This feat was in part accomplished through measures that encouraged and empowered municipalities and private firms to generate the energy needs for their surrounding communities, thus shifting their grid focus from large centralized power plants to smaller efficient, and in most cases, green energy producers.
Given our geographic spread, The Bahamas is a prime candidate to duplicate this successful model across our island chain. While daunting, it shows that our 2030 deadline is in fact achievable once we remain willing to put in the appropriate measures and resources.
In terms of getting us ready, Minister for the Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett outlined last year the following steps his ministry is seeking to immediately implement:
o Introduction of a Renewable Energy Act;
o Creation of an electricity sector regulator;
o Establishment of a Sustainable Energy Unit in the Ministry of Environment;
o Development of a national review plan to evaluate the most efficient way to move electricity from one island to another;
o Expand incentives to reduce the demand for energy;
o Introduce further reductions and or exemptions of customs duties on energy efficient appliances;
o Encourage businesses to conduct independent energy audits;
o Encourage the private sector to generate electricity that can be sold to BEC.
Change is needed
As a precursor to all this, it is already widely recognized that our current laws (The Electricity Act, 1956) are grossly inadequate and must first be modernized in order to effect change. Power, literally and figuratively, must be placed into the hands of the people.
For both the benefit of BEC and consumers (through reduced costs), residential solar power utilization along with net billing (the ability for consumers to sell excess electricity back into the grid) are relatively "low-hanging fruits" that we can easily target over the next five years.
It was even recently reported that a popular local commercial bank is already extending financing options to assist homeowners with making self-generation a widespread reality.
While upfront investment costs are still somewhat high, this lending facility does make the technology more accessible while its costs continue to decrease.
Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is also an energy security issue. Our unique geography has endowed us with the potential to meet our energy needs from a wide array of sources (solar, ocean thermal, wind and now waste-to-energy) and our existing high energy cost is further incentive for us to seek ways to reduce our significant annual fuel costs.
As mentioned in our previous article, BEC last year spent $385 million on oil which is equivalent to 22.9 percent of the current 2012-2013 budget expenditure, or 8.1 percent of the national debt.
In an effort to highlight the significant benefits this country can accrue from developing a sustainable energy matrix, we generated the chart below based on information contained in the previously referenced BEST Commission report. Of note, this matrix is built only on the area presently supplied by BEC, which represents 75 percent of our present electricity demand.
Ultimately, it shows that over a 20-year period the net social and economic benefit from investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy should accrue to more than $6 billion, or approximately 78 percent of our current GDP (est. $8 billion). Given our current mounting national debt concerns ($4.75 billion), such savings are welcomed and underline the importance of why we need to develop our national energy plan post-haste.
In next week's article, we will seek to conclude our discussion on this very pressing issue by further focusing on the various tools the government can utilize in ensuring we make an honest step forward to achieving our lofty 2030 sustainable energy goals.
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Earl Deveaux, the Minister of the Environment, said Bahamians "need to take matters into their own hands" when it comes to alternative power solutions to reduce costs and ensure a more stable supply. There has been "a great deal of talk" on the need for other forms of energy, he added, but very (little) initiative from the general population.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS, June 12, 2012 – Whirlpool Corporation has introduced a pair of new top-loading washing machines that significantly reduce water consumption.
The new classic model uses up to 20 percent less water than previous models and sells locally for about B$1,000 before any retailer discounts. The high-efficiency model slashes water use by up to a remarkable 70 percent and retails for about B$1,300.