There Is A Plan: BPL Chairman Discusses Strategic Plan
The Board of Directors of Bahamas Power and Light Company Limited is cognizant of the challenges faced by Bahamians due to prolonged load shedding and lingering problems with power generation. We know the problems it is causing for homes, and for businesses, for industry, and for families. I want to again apologize to our customers and The Bahamian people for not providing the level of service that should be expected from a national electrical utility. We intend to do all we can as quickly as possible to resolve the issues that inhibit our ability to provide the quality of service all of our customers deserve.
(Another) perspective on the challenges facing BPL is that as a company, we have been disadvantaged by decades of nonalignment of strategic vision for the company and the needs of our growing customer base. As more housing developments were being constructed, more resorts and other foreign direct investments were courted and constructed, as the economy and the population has continued to grow, there should have been concurrent investments in increasing generation capacity to sufficient levels that would ensure the company’s ability to meet growing demand and sufficient headroom to allow for redundancy. That nonalignment is equally at play in our challenges, and perhaps more significant than the current shortfall in the generation, in our view.
The mandate given to this board by the Government of The Bahamas is to fix the issues that plague our national electricity company once and for all. We are here to address the structural problems facing BPL head-on and to stay focused until those problems are resolved, and we can present The Bahamian people with an electrical utility that delivers on its mandate to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to all its customers. The Board is providing diligent oversight of a strategic plan that we believe will achieve this stated goal.
Despite the reality we currently face, we are not without optimism. We believe that our current strategic plan with a phased approach for execution will allow us to achieved measured and objective improvements in our operations, address challenges that have been plaguing the company for years, and the successful completion of each phase of our plan will allow BPL to rebuild trust with our customers.
The completion of the 132 Megawatt power plant at Station A before the end of this year is the first phase of our Generation turnaround strategy. This Station A power plant is intended to be incorporated into the power generation facilities that will be developed and operated by Shell North America. In fact, immediately after the fire in Station C that consumed about 65MW of BPL’s generation assets, Shell North America was directly involved in the selection of Wartsila to build this power plant with the understanding that these engines would become part of the larger 220MW generation facility that they will own and operate. Any suggestion or assertion that Shell North America has not been involved in this process is factually incorrect. The Station A power plant is the largest single plant ever built in the history of the company, it will allow us the ability to address some of the generation issues mentioned earlier, as well as allow BPL to better prepare to serve its customers in summer 2020 and beyond.
The completion of a Gas-To-Power Plant by Shell North America will mark the completion of the second phase of our Generation turnaround strategy, which will see another 90+ megawatts of high-efficiency, low-emissions generation pumping power to the grid by mid-2021.
Phase three of the turnaround for generation is the completion of the Terminal Facility for LNG Regasification, which is expected to be fully operational by December 2021. With the completion of this facility, the Shell power plant, as well as BPL’s remaining generation assets, will have access to LNG, and our customers will immediately see the benefits of a cleaner, less expensive, and more environmentally sustainable fuel source as the foundation of our energy supply in New Providence.
In addition to traditional power generation facilities, we are excited about our push into renewables. Over the next four years, we will be releasing renewable energy generation RFPs for New Providence and all the Family Islands. The first of these RFPs have already been issued, inviting qualified organizations to submit proposals as Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to develop, finance, build, own, and operate a solar PV and energy storage plants, or hybrid power plants on Bimini, Andros, Eleuthera, and Inagua. BPL intends to leverage what we learn from these initial projects to ensure that our implementation of renewable energy is done in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, with the ultimate goal of providing maximum benefits to our customers.
Our strategic push into renewables will have a marquis kickoff with work set to begin on implementing the new solar energy solution on Ragged Island. As we are all aware the Government of the Bahamas made a commitment to make Ragged Island a green island, and BPL is doing its part in making this happen. Our team visited Ragged Island this past Friday to view sites for the new solar plant installation on that island. We are excited about this first solar and battery storage solution implemented by BPL, which is paving the way for the company in the renewables arena, particularly with regard to solar generation. BPL intends to do everything we can to deliver solar power to Ragged Island by December of 2019.
We have a plan to fix BPL: we have laid out the broad strokes of the plan, and we encourage our consumers to hold us accountable. This is our commitment to The Bahamian people, and we will stand by it.
I would like to say clearly: we, the Board of Directors, have absolute confidence in the executive team led by Mr. Whitney Heastie to get the job done. We support Mr. Heastie’s operational plan, and we stand by his team’s ability to bring that plan to fruition.
Our strategic plan is broader than generation alone; it also addresses stabilizing our finances, upgrading our neglected Transmission and Distribution network, significantly improving the quality of our customer service, building additional capacity within our workforce via structured training and certification programs, and above all keeping safety as our first priority both in the workplace and in the services we deliver to our customers. We strongly believe that successful execution of our strategic plan will allow BPL to provide reliable, cost-effective electricity that will be viewed as a game-changer with respect to its long term positive effect on the growth and development of the Bahamian economy.
So once again, as a Board we have a mandate: fix the problems at BPL once and for all. We are committed to doing this. We have confidence in the BPL team and are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that they have all the resources required to execute this plan. We, the Board, will hold them accountable for success, even as we are held accountable by our stakeholders – the public who own this utility.