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Bahamas Government progressing to cleaner energy as BPL commissions Ragged Island solar microgrid



By: Kathryn Campbell
Bahamas Information Services

#RAGGEDISLAND, The Bahamas, August 14, 2022 –  – A battery energy storage system and a solar rooftop programme are among initiatives of the Bahamas Government toward cleaner energy nationwide.

The Solar Microgrid Plant, Ragged Island.

“We are investing $14.2 million in installing a 25 MW battery energy storage system at the Baillou Hill Power Plant. Additionally, our administration will budget $1.9 million for our solar rooftop program, so that clinics, public libraries and schools can be part of our nation’s renewable energy progress. I am excited to announce that the Ministry of Public Works is assessing eight government buildings for this programme,” said the Hon. Philip Davis, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

Thirty-five million dollars have also been earmarked for the installation of solar photovoltaic systems in the Family Islands and feasibility studies for Inagua, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and North Andros have also been concluded.

The Prime Minister made the announcements at the commissioning of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Ragged Island solar microgrid, Friday, August 12, 2022.

Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. Philip Davis.

Following the one-hour ceremony, he clipped the ribbon signaling the official commissioning of the southern island’s solar microgrid, which secured Best Resilience Project Award at Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) industry awards for 2022. The awards recognize excellence in projects, programs and people promoting clean energy transition in the Caribbean.

Prime Minister Davis said the event was first and foremost about the people of Ragged Island.

“The people – the many people – who worked to make today possible – local residents, non-profits, the private sector, and government policy-makers and workers, too. And today is also about all the people of The Bahamas, who recognize that small communities in our Family Islands are an essential thread in our national fabric and deserve our robust commitment and support.

“Every family and every business in The Bahamas knows that energy costs are too high, service is too unreliable, and past promises of progress haven’t panned out. And every Bahamian knows that climate change is a real threat – not in some distant future, but right now. If there was ever any doubt, Irma and Dorian erased those doubts with a vengeance.

Prime Minister Davis and delegation tour facilities.

“And as we continue our advocacy on the world stage for change – including an important meeting for regional governments which we will host right here in our country next week – we need to walk the walk, too. We contribute a tiny, tiny percentage of the world’s emissions, but we are going to be part of climate solutions in many ways in the years to come, including by keeping our own commitment to generate at least 30% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. This investment in Ragged Island means greener energy and less dependence on subsidies, and crucially – it means more resilience in the face of future hurricanes.”

The Prime Minister said the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit are working hard to expand renewable energy, an expansion in part made possible by an IDB-funded loan of $80 million and a $9 million EU-CIF grant.

Prime Minister Davis and delegation tour facilities.

“We will invest more than $36 million in renewable infrastructure in Abaco and East Grand Bahama. The focus of this investment in Abaco will include $18 million for the restoration of electricity services and the rehabilitation of physical infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Dorian. We will also invest $4.5 million in the installation of five microgrids in East End Grand Bahama.”

Pedro Rolle, BPL Chairman, described the occasion as “momentous” and worthy of celebration. He said it is also an indication that BPL is “able” and “ready” to partially or completely solarize energy supply in any of its territories in keeping with the national energy policy and The Bahamas’ goal of renewable energy by 2030.  He welcomed special guests including residents of the island, the Hon. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism; Luther Smith and David Davis Permanent Secretaries; Bachus Rolle and Leon Lundy, Parliamentary Secretaries; Ambassador to the Vatican, Joseph Curry, senior government officials, representatives of the Ministry of Finance; executives, staff and representatives of the board of BPL, employees of the Ministry of Works and Utilities, representatives of Salt Energy and other sub-contractors.

Minister of Public Works & Utilities the Hon. Alfred Sears.

Burlington Strachan, Chief Operating Officer, engineer and project manager said, “There have been bumps along the way, teething pains, but all of these have helped further our knowledge and experience with respect to planning, implementation and operation of these types of integrated service systems. We have learned that as a company we can successfully implement these solutions. What we need are the key resources of land, finances and a commitment to getting the projects done.”

The Hon. Alfred Sears, Minister of Works and Utilities, expressed pride for the residents of Ragged Island, patriotic citizens many of whom have been made climate refugees.

“We’re so proud that you have taught us how to build a nation. Today, we celebrate the first step in a journey of national sustainability, resilience and the reduction in the carbon footprint of The Bahamas in the generation of clean, reliable and affordable energy. This is a holistic, integrated approach integrating renewable in the generation of power.”

Deputy Prime Minister, the Hon. Chester Cooper.

He acknowledged the “incredible” scientists, quantity surveyors and engineers who worked on the project. “These extraordinary Bahamian scientists and engineers have done an extraordinary job in building this utility scale solar facility which concretizes the commitment reflected in the Blueprint for Change, in the national development plan and the Prime Minister’s bold declaration in Glasgow at COP 26 that The Bahamas by 2030 will realize a minimum of 30% in the power generation from renewable energy.”

DPM Cooper said the project is a demonstration that “we the people of Ragged Island we’re not only resilient but we are trailblazers. While we admire what some of the other small islands have done we declare today that Ragged Island is the first major island in all of The Bahamas to be 100 % solar.” He thanked the residents for their resilience, energy and commitment.

The project entails a 401KW solar field, comprising 924 individual solar panels. It is integrated with a 1200 kwh battery storage unit and a diesel generator automation system. A tour of the field followed the ceremony.

BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna

Header: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

Release: BIS

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PM Davis ‘confident’ that Revenue Outturn will near $2.9 billion




Bahamas Information Services



#NASSAU, The Bahamas, May 30, 2023 – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis said in the House of Assembly, on May 31, 2023, that public revenue receipts were strong over the nine-month period of July 2022 to March 2023, due to legislative reform, effective policy decisions, strengthened economic conditions and more efficient collection efforts.

“Analysis of the trends of the first three quarters of this fiscal year, and the years prior, suggest that the government is potentially set to exceed the $2.85 billion target set forth in the February 2023 Mid-year Supplementary Budget,” he said, during his Communication on Budget 2023.

“I am confident the revenue outturn at the end of the Fiscal Year 22/23 will near $2.9 billion.

Public spending has remained on track, and is well within the budgeted amount,” Prime Minister Davis added.  “For this reason I am confident that expenditure at end of the Fiscal Year 2022/23 will almost reach the target of $3.1 billion set in the Supplementary Budget.”

He pointed out that the primary balance will, therefore, record a surplus of $68.4 million at the end of the fiscal year, a $54.8 million increase from the $13.6 million surplus projected in the supplementary budget.

“Likewise, the overall deficit is expected to improve to $520.6 million, down from the $575.4 million outlined in the supplementary budget,” he said.

Speaking of Government financing, Prime Minister Davis said that The Bahamas’ borrowing costs had begun to experience a downward trend in the previous quarter; but the cost of borrowing rose at the end of March 2023.

“At the end of the third quarter, the total average cost of borrowing for current outstanding debt had risen to an interest rate of 5.55 percent,” he pointed out.  “This is notably higher than the previous year’s rate of 4.93 percent at the end of March 2022.

“This increase in borrowing costs is primarily attributable to the higher costs associated with external loan facilities.”

He added that, more specifically, the average interest rate for external financing had risen by 1.99 basis points, resulting in a rate of 5.55 percent as of March 2023, compared to the preceding year’s 3.56 percent.

“Throughout the past year, the interest rate policies of the major Central Banks have been restrictive, with a series of interest rate increases,” Prime Minister Davis said.  “These adjustments have been primarily motivated by the escalation of inflation, and the resulting upsurge in interest rates has had an impact on the Bahamas’ external borrowing costs.”

He added: “However, the cost of borrowing in the domestic market has been declining over the past quarters.

Looking at it in more detail, we can see that:

  • The average interest cost for domestic loans subsided by 27 basis points to 4.62 percent at end of March 2023, from 4.89 percent in the previous year;
  • And the average interest cost for domestic bonds subsided by 3 basis points to 4.63 percent at the end of March 2023 from 4.66 percent in the previous year.”

Prime Minister Davis noted that those statistics affirmed the Government’s latest medium-term debt strategy, which aimed to shift its borrowing away from costly external commercial debt.

“Such debt has seen a sharp increase over the past five years, including recent interest rate hikes,” he said.  “This strategic move will enable the government to once again rely predominantly on the domestic market to meet its financing requirements.”

Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, when considering the maturity of debt, or the average time it takes to repay the principal amount in the government’s debt portfolio, a longer maturity period led to a reduction in refinancing risk.

“In essence, prioritizing longer maturities is key to managing debt effectively,” he said.  “And so another element of the government’s medium-term debt management strategy is the goal of prolonging the average maturity time of its debt.”

Prime Minister Davis said that, in the face of “unprecedented turbulence” in the global financial markets, the Government was able to maintain its average time to maturity.

“At end of March 2023, the average time to maturity has decreased slightly to 6.7 years, down from the previous 6.8 years in March 2022,” he said.  “This variance is due solely to the external loan component, as the average time to maturity on internal debt has remained steady at 7.1 years.”

“This highlights the significance of maintaining a prudent approach to debt management, and aligning this administration’s practices with the government’s optimal debt strategy,” Prime Minister Davis added.

“It is imperative that we continue to exercise prudence in this area to ensure financial stability.”

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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PM states HCA model not working during budget debate




Bahamas Information Services



#FREEPORT, Grand Bahama, May 30, 2023 – The model of the Hawkbill Creek Act, the agreement between the Government of The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Port Authority, is not working, said Prime Minister the Hon. Philip Davis during the opening of the 2023 Budget Debate on Wednesday, May 31 in the House of Assembly.

The island of Grand Bahama, he said, contributes 12 percent of the country’s GDP, however, there was a decline by 9 percent when compared to the previous year. Tourism, he said, increased in 2022 showing a growth in accommodation and food service.

“Unfortunately, the statistics show a prolonged decline in the Grand Bahamian economy. The evidence confirms the view of my government that the Hawksbill Creek economic model, which was meant to attract foreign direct investment, does not work.

“Furthermore, in our view, the government model of the Grand Bahama Port Authority must change, in order to realize the promise, growth and prosperity we all desire.

“Additionally, the Government of The Bahamas has serious concerns regarding the compliance of the GBPA and its related companies with the terms and conditions of the Hawksbill Creek Act, and its subsequent amendments.”

In the past, said the Prime Minister, administrations have attempted to address the issues however they appear to be “systemic and fundamental.” Decisive action will be taken, he continued, and a separate detailed announcement will be made at another time.

Prime Minister Davis mentioned that even though the GDP for several islands has experienced growth, Abaco and Grand Bahama have not done as well. Abaco, he said, saw a decline of 6 percent in 2022 with its contribution to the economy at 2.8 percent ranking the island as the third largest contributor.

“While there was a slight improvement in Abaco’s economy compared to 2019, it has yet to reach the levels seen before Hurricane Dorian. The decline in the economic activity is directly related to the slowdown in the real estate and construction sectors.”

He continued, “Declines in the real estate sector are directly as a result of a shift to higher intermediate consumption in 2022 from that of the previous two years. In terms of declines in construction, it should be noted that in 2020 and 2021, Abaco experienced significant recovery efforts in the form of debris removal, site preparation and building of damaged structures.

Such efforts bolstered the value added to the island’s GDP during those years. As those efforts wrap up, the industry saw a gradual decline as construction tempered to normal levels in 2022, resulting in a lower GDP.
Additionally, the Prime Minister said the Grand Bahama International Airport will be repaired, and a new healthcare facility will be built. Provisions have also been made for the continuation of an employment program for $4.7 million, along with the construction of a 50-meter swimming pool facility.

The House of Assembly has adjourned until Wednesday, June 7, when the debate will continue.

(BIS Photo/Ulric Woodside)

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 The Bahamas most at risk for climate change impacts, book brings issue forward



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer



#TheBahamas, May 30, 2023 – Bahamas’ vulnerability to climate change is alarmingly high as commonly known, and a new book now emphasizes that the country faces greater risks than nearly any other country.

The book, published May 23rd, 2023, is called Sea Change, An Atlas of Islands in a Rising Ocean and it is written by Christina Gerhardt, academic author and environmental journalist.

In her book which features several Caribbean islands as well as locations outside of the Caribbean, she informed that Bahamas’s low elevation, abundant limestone and high population density along coastlines puts the country in a position where it is most at risk from climate change impacts.

This clearly threatens the very existence of the Bahamas as well as other countries in a similar situation. However, The Bahamas is high on the watch list especially since it is “at a high risk of hurricanes and tropical storms because the archipelago sits at the northern end of the Atlantic ‘hurricane alley’,” the book says.

In the introduction, on page 1, Gerhardt expressed this worrying reality by saying “Atlases are being redrawn as islands are disappearing.”

The book builds on projections from Climate Central, a non-profit organization  that analyzes and reports on climate science.

On Monday May 22 [will verify this date] The Guardian British daily newspaper published a piece from Gerhardt’s book and it read, “According to a report on the threat of sea level rise in the Caribbean by Climate Central, ‘The Bahamas confront by far the greatest proportional threat: 32 per cent of land [and] 25 per cent of population … are below 0.5 metres [1.64 ft]’.”

It continues, to compare which island are more likely to be affected, The Bahamas topping the charts.

“According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s fifth assessment report, the impacts of sea level rise measured in national GDP found that alongside islands in the Pacific – specifically Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Nauru – the island group that would be most affected is The Bahamas. In 2020, Moody’s rating agency said The Bahamas was among the four nations forecast to be hit hardest financially by sea level rise, with an estimated 11 per cent of its residents and 15 per cent of its GDP at risk.”

Gerhardt’s book is in-line with predictions of the Bahamas seeing a 32cm (1.04ft) sea level rise by 2050 and 82cm (2.68ft) by 2100.

Climate Central informed that the majority of Grand Bahama, Abaco, and Spanish Wells is set to be under flood levels by 2050 and Crooked Island, Acklins, Andros and Cat Island will meet the same fate.

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