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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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Statement on Road Traffic Department 

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#TheBahamas, September 26, 2022 – As an integral agency under the Ministry of Transport and Housing, the Road Traffic Department is responsible for the collection of revenue from vehicle licensing and inspection fees.

On an annual basis, the revenue from the Road Traffic Department exceeds 60 million dollars.

This revenue is critical in supporting the programmes and initiatives of the Government of The Bahamas and covers the operating costs of the Road Traffic Department.

The revenue must be protected.

To ensure the integrity of revenue collected, numerous processes and procedures have been implemented. Additionally, several audits have been undertaken to ensure that employees act in accordance with the established protocols of the Department.

The Ministry is aware of allegations and discord in the public domain between two employees at the Road Traffic Department.

While it is not the policy of the Government of The Bahamas to publicly comment on internal staff matters, the Ministry takes grave exception to personal allegations against employees being made public while the allegations remain under investigation by independent parties.

Public Officers are reminded of the provisions of General Orders which disallows public statements on any matter.

The Ministry continues to foster and encourage a harmonious and respectful working environment at the Road Traffic Department and all agencies under its remit.

The Ministry remains strongly committed to strengthening the audit and compliance oversight of the Road Traffic Department and will not be deterred its efforts to safeguard the Government’s revenue stream.

 

September 26th, 2022 

Ministry of Transport & Housing

Commonwealth of The Bahamas

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NEMA Director orders activation of shelters in GB, Bimini

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NASSAU, The Bahamas – Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Captain Stephen Russell, Wednesday, ordered the activation of shelters in Grand Bahama and Bimini as a precautionary measure against potential impacts from Tropical Storm-Force conditions associated with Hurricane Ian.

 Six shelters were activated in Grand Bahama (two in Freeport, two in Eight-Mile Rock, and one each in Pinedale, Seagrape and Holmes’ Rock) and one in Bimini (Gateway in Bailey Town) at 10am. Captain Russell also announced that Floodwater Rescue Teams have been pre-positioned in West End and Alice Town as yet another precautionary measure.

 The National Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) remained on Partial Activation Wednesday and will remain Activated throughout the response phase. Teams from the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, The Bahamas Department of Meteorology, the Department of Social Services, and the Department of Local Government, have been in communication with Island Administrators, Local Government officials and Disaster Consultative Committees in the north-western Bahamas.

 During Partial Activation, certain NEOC Team Members (known as Emergency Support Functions) are activated to monitor certain risks and/or hazards in areas that could be impacted by weather conditions associated with the passage of a storm, and as a means of communicating with/supporting disaster managers and planners and disaster consultative committees on the ground in those areas.

 The NEOC is responsible for executing emergency management and ensuring the continuity of operations for the entire country.

 Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning remained in effect for the north-western Bahamas as at 12noon Wednesday with residents of Grand Bahama and the Biminis being advised to prepare for the possibility of sustained Tropical Storm-Force winds tonight through Thursday. Residents in the remainder of the northwest Bahamas, including Abaco, the Berry Islands, North Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera, could experience winds gusting to gale-force during this period.

 (A Tropical Storm Warning means that Tropical Storm conditions could be experienced in the mentioned islands within 36 hours.) 

 Forecasters at The Bahamas Department of Meteorology said rainbands associated with Hurricane Ian, will continue to affect the islands of the northwest Bahamas today and Thursday. Residents in these islands are asked to exercise extreme caution as the rainbands will bring severe thunderstorms, gusty winds and possible tornadic activity.

 Total rainfall amounts of 4 to 6 inches are expected with isolated amounts of up to 8 inches through Friday. As a result, severe, localized flooding is possible in low-lying and flood-prone areas.

Residents of low-lying, flood-prone areas of the north-western Bahamas, are asked to take special precautions during any heavy and/or prolonged rainfall event, and to exercise extreme caution in the event there is flooding. One such precautionary measure is to avoid driving in or through floodwater, where possible, or playing in floodwater (children) as floodwater can contain numerous hidden hazards. These include:

  • Downed power lines.
  • Sewage and other contaminants.
  • Large Holes.
  • Sharp objects that can cause injury and lead to infections.
  • Objects such as lumber, vehicles, debris.
  • Carcasses of dead animals, in addition to rodents and snakes.

Exposure to contaminated floodwater can result in:

  • Wound infections.
  • Skin rash.
  • Gastrointestinal illnesses.
  • Tetanus (Lock-jaw).

If you do come into contact with floodwater, you are advised to:

  • Wash the area with soap and clean water as soon as possible. If you do not have soap or water, use alcohol-based wipes or sanitizers.
  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater or sewage water in hot water and detergent before re-using them.

If you must enter floodwater, protect yourselves by wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves and goggles. The same goes for Standing Water.

The National Emergency Management Agency reminds residents to pay close attention to the Alerts, NEWS ITEMS, Public Forecasts, Severe Weather Warnings and/or Special Weather Statements issued by The Bahamas Department of Meteorology.

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Glass Window Bridge envisioned as a symbol of resilience and sustainability says Works and Utilities Minister

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By KATHRYN CAMPBELL

Bahamas Information Services

 

#ELEUTHERA, The Bahamas, September 27, 2022 –  A new bridge design that incorporates opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs was presented at a Town Hall Meeting Thursday, September 22, 2022 at St. Patrick’s Lodge Hall, Hatchet Bay.

During the livestreamed event the Minister of Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears; the Hon. Clay Sweeting, Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs; island administrators, representatives of the Ministry of Works, Town Planning Board, the Bridge Authority, Local Government, Lambert Knowles and other consultants, and residents of Eleuthera discussed plans for the proposed replacement of the Glass Window Bridge (GWB) in North Eleuthera.

Minister Sears termed the meeting very “successful” consultation and attendance by local stakeholders and virtual participants.

He said Mr. Knowles has assembled a world-class team of bridge designers who have put together a design that will turn the GWB “into a symbol of resilience, sustainability and also a place of entertainment and relaxation where Bahamian businesses can come and share in the wonderful goods of Eleuthera to the international travelling public as well as the residents in Eleuthera.

“We’re speaking now with Caribbean Development Bank with respect to funding; the design is now completed, there is also interest in PPP’s. Within the next two months we should have a funding pathway and then of course we will move on the procurement. Once the funding is in place we will announce a date.”

“It is not only a look out point, we are approaching this project as an enterprise where the people who live in Eleuthera would have the same opportunities that the people in South would have as the Disney Project would have, but it would be more significant than Disney because this project would be owned by Bahamian people — entrepreneurs, performers and culinary artists.

“Eleuthera is one of the places in the Commonwealth of the Bahamas where development is taking place very rapidly. It is one of the most unique communities in our country; it is the fifth largest economy within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. We have some of the wealthiest industrialists with homes in Eleuthera; we also have booming Bahamian business resorts throughout Eleuthera.”

The GWD represents a place where we “can build opportunities for Bahamian businesses, Bahamian entrepreneurs to showcase the imagination of the Bahamian crafts persons, also to showcase the culinary skills as well as the extraordinary culinary dishes of Bahamian cuisine,” he said.

Although “spectacular” Minister Sears said the current one-lane bridge is “dangerous” and unable to facilitate the transport of freight from the north to the south of the island because its carrying capacity is only 12 tonnes — anything over 12 tonnes cannot be transported over the bridge.

He noted other challenges and informed that the bridge is not fulfilling the potential that it has for the development of Eleuthera.

Using a Power Point presentation, Mr. Knowles introduced the design team, technical aspects of the built design and various options considered for the new bridge.

He said the proposed bridge will be unique; a picture opportunity and a venue to host an event. It will have a park, security, rest rooms, parking, a location for food trucks to sell crafts and food; and topography with different elevation.

During the question and answer segment, Minister Sears said a decision has not yet been made regarding a bridge toll on the major undertaking.

“It is a project which multilateral bodies and private sector investors have expressed an interest in participating in the funding. It is a project that once we have the community by-in the government is committed to building a world class production at this location.” Construction is expected to take place on the proposed bridge from 2023-2026 at an estimated cost of $50-$60 million.

The GWB was built in 1990 and provides the only vehicular link between North and South Eleuthera.

 

(BIS Photos/Ulric Woodside)

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