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

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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.

PHOTO CAPTIONS
BIS Photos/Patrick Hanna

Header: Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

Release: BIS

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124 HAITIAN NATIONALS REPATRIATED TO CAP-HAITIEN, HAITI

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#TheBahamas, May 21, 2024 – On Wednesday, May 15, the Department effectively executed the repatriation of a group of illegal migrants from the Lynden Pindling International Airport, New Providence to Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

At approximately 9:11 a.m., a Bahamasair chartered flight departed New Providence en route to Haiti with one hundred twenty-four (124) Haitian nationals onboard; a hundred and eight (108) adult males, thirteen (13) adult females and three (3) minors. The Department’s Deportation and Enforcement Units led the escort.

All security and health protocols were observed as the safety and welfare of our officers, law enforcement counterparts and migrants remain the highest priority.

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Introducing The Bahamas Cannabis Authority; Marijuana Bill tabled by Darville

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – A medical marijuana industry is set for establishment in The Bahamas, following the tabling of the Cannabis Bill, 2024, in the House of Assembly, by Minister of Health and Wellness, Hon. Dr Michael Darville, May 15.

The Minister said objective of legislation is to set up a framework to establish The Bahamas Cannabis Authority, and to regulate the of importation, exportation, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, producing, sale, possession, distribution, and use of cannabis.

He told the Assembly that the law represents a thoughtful and balanced approach and was driven by a duty to act as he referenced the number of Bahamians who are battling cancer and in need of alternative treatments for pain management and other related issues.

“The legislative package, the Cannabis Bill, 2024 is designed to introduce a controlled system of cannabis use in medical treatments. The bill establishes the Bahamas Cannabis Authority.  A regulatory body overseeing all aspects of cannabis management and cultivation and distribution.  The authority’s mandate is to ensure that cannabis production and use are safe, controlled and effectively integrated into our health care system,” Minister Darville said.

Adding that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill, 2023 that he also tabled, reclassifies cannabis by removing it from the dangerous drug list, now recognises its potential for medical use, he said the change aligns “our nations laws” with evolving global perspectives on cannabis.

The new law makes provisions for the licensing of cannabis handlers across various aspects of The Bahamas, and Dr. Darville said the licensing is structured to prioritise Bahamian ownership, with provisions ensuring that significant control remains in the hands of Bahamian nationals, fostering local entrepreneurship and economic benefits “for Bahamians across the country.

“We are here to make a difference, to enact change, remove years of stigma and transform lives by offering alternative treatments by way of medical cannabis.  The legislation before us offers a careful, considerate approach ensuring that we prioritize the wellbeing and safety of our citizens. Let us move with compassion,” he said.

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Pinder announces Trial by Judge Alone, New Courts, Harsher Penalties in Judicial Reform legislative Package

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

#TheBahamas, May 20, 2024 – The Bahamian Government has moved to open new courts, increase penalties for serious and violent crimes, as part of its reform of the judiciary to create efficiency in the system, and gang reduction efforts.

Outlining the administration’s legislative agenda on crime reduction, and judicial reform, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Senator, the Hon. Ryan Pinder said in the coming months there will be the opening of the juvenile and family courts allowing “us to bring on new judges for criminal and civil matters.

“We also anticipate establishing this year a commercial court that will be focused on hearing commercial disputes to ensure that the pace of business is not impaired by delays in trials,” the Minister said while addressing the Senate on May 15.

He was presenting the second reading of the Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024 and The Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, 2024, which allows for the Supreme Court (Criminal Case Management) (Amendment) Rules, 2024.

Senator Pinder said the bills are in line with the commitment of this Government to ensure that the necessary laws are in place to facilitate the “timely and effective” administration of justice.

Stressing that the administration have been working hard this legislative session to put in place the improvements in law to address the judicial system as well as the treatment of bail for an accused, and ensuring stiff penalties for major criminal violations, he said  the Government have passed a series of legislation to facilitate trials and prosecution of criminals.

“I would suggest that we have done more on the legislative front than any former administration to address crime, and we are not done.”

“The Magistrates (Amendment) Bill increased the financial thresholds of the jurisdiction of a Magistrate to hear certain matters and adjusted the maximum penalties. The broadening of the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court is intended to rebalance cases between the Supreme Court and the Magistrates Court in order to relieve the volume of minor disputes from the calendar of the Supreme Court,” he said.

For the magistrate’s court, he said, it is many instances the primary court for many civil and criminal cases, and especially in civil matters operating more of a small claims court, and the jurisdictional limits increased had not been adjusted in many years, and the operation of society has outpaced their limits.

The Court Services Bill empowers the judiciary to operate autonomously from an administrative point of view, by taking away oversight by central Government, thereby removing the bottleneck caused by the current system and providing further judicial independence.

For the Supreme Court (Amendment) Bill, it increases the maximum number of Supreme Court judges from 20 to 25, increasing the capacity to conduct trials in the Supreme Court by 25%.

“It is the Government’s intention that this not only contribute significantly to concluding the backlog of cases but will also give the Chief Justice the flexibility he requires to better allocated judges through the courts,” the Minister said.

The Trial by Judge Alone (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2024, to grant a right of election to persons charged with indictable offences in the Supreme Court to be tried by a Judge alone.

“We believe this is a positive legislative reform to provide yet more support for timely trials in criminal matters,” the Minister said.

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