“Bermuda’s Energy Future Is About Change”

November 21, 2014

We cannot continue to produce electricity exclusively from oil and “must examine other alternatives and create a diversified energy portfolio,” Minister of Education and Economic Development Grant Gibbons said today [Nov 21] in the House of Assembly

The Minister was speaking about the recent Energy Summit, that was held at the Fairmont Southampton, with the collaborative event organized by the Ministry of Education and Economic Development, Bermuda First, the Chamber of Commerce, Ascendant and Greenrock.

“The Energy Summit was a great success and was well attended by over 90 stakeholders including overseas energy and regulatory officials and experts,” said the Minister.

“Bermuda’s energy future is about change. We must re-frame the way we think, use, purchase, regulate and even source our energy – this transformation must therefore begin with dialogue. The Energy Summit was the commencement of that transformation process, by bringing together the widest range of stakeholders possible.

“We did not expect to conclude the day with solutions, because we are still learning about the future work required, and understanding what questions need to be asked and what conversations need to pursued. This summit was about what’s best for Bermuda.

“We cannot continue to produce electricity exclusively from oil. There is too much risk, not just in terms of the volatility of pricing, but also in terms of the impact on the environment. We must examine other alternatives and create a diversified energy portfolio.

“We must ensure that the technologies are robust, proven, and economically viable, and that the rules of engagement are equal to the task,” continued Minister Gibbons.

“A crucial first step is to get the policies right, while creating a transparent regulatory environment that promotes affordable consumer prices, creates jobs and protects Bermuda’s environmental and economic future.

“I shall elaborate on this proposed consulting engagement in a subsequent Ministerial Statement; but I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that the Department of Energy has also been working on interim measures to formalize Power Purchase Agreements between BELCo and the residential and commercial solar power owners.

“The Department, on a very short-term contract, has engaged the firm of Gowling Lafluer Henderson to develop these interconnection and Power Purchase Agreements.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to provide this Honourable House with information on the Energy Summit that was held at the Southampton Princess on the 13th November 2014.

Mr. Speaker,

The Energy Summit was a collaborative event organized by the Ministry of Education and Economic Development, Bermuda First, the Chamber of Commerce, Ascendant and Greenrock.

The Summit provided the opportunity for a broad set of stakeholders to participate in a collaborative forum on the reform of the energy sector.

Mr. Speaker, the Energy Summit was chaired by Dr. Ted Kury, the Director of Energy Studies at the Public Utility Research Centre at the University of Florida.

He is responsible for promoting research and outreach activities in energy regulation and policy. He develops research strategies on emerging issues and best practices and serves as an expert resource for regulatory professionals, policymakers and service providers in Florida and around the World.

Mr. Speaker, the Summit consisted of three panels followed by a facilitated forum to determine the focus of future workshops on energy.

The first panel – Evolution versus Revolution consisted of panelist:

  • Ms. Alisan Amrhein, the Project Manager of the 2014 Bermuda Offshore Wind Study from the Ben School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara;
  • Mr. Bill Capp, President of Grid Consulting, LLC;
  • Mr. Jamie Smith, President and CEO of Solar Bermuda;
  • and Mr. Denton Williams, Senior Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at BELCO.

This panel was moderated by Dr. Karl McDermott, Professor of Business and Government for the University of Illinois.

The panel discussed the viability of Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG], various renewable energies such as wind and solar, potential opportunities for the storage of energy, energy conservation and efficiency and how mature and emerging renewable technologies can be integrated into the existing grid while ensuring consumers continue to receive a stable and reliable supply of electricity.

Mr. Speaker,

the second panel – Rules of Engagement consisted of panelist:

  • Mr. Craig Simmons, Lecturer and Economist at the Bermuda College,
  • Mr. Gianmarco Servetti, the Practice Leader for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency with Castalia Strategic Advisors;
  • and Mr. Thomas Timmins, a Partner with the law firm Gowling Lafleur Henderson.

This panel’s discussion centred on understanding the right balance between legislation, regulation and policy that is required to promote inward investment, support the introduction and adoption of sustainable “green practices” and create a thriving energy sector. The panel was moderated by Mr. Karl Rabago Principal at Rabago Energy LLC.

Mr. Speaker, the third and final panel – The Way Forward included Ms. Julia Van Beleen, a Partner & Senior Project Architect at Cooper & Gardner, Mr. David Cash, a Director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, Mr. Mark Wieck, the Director of Sustainable Programs for Dow Chemical and Mr. Walter Higgins, President & CEO of the Ascendant Group.

The panelists discussed energy conservation and efficiency, reduction of greenhouse gases and managing the price of electricity.

Mr. Speaker, following the three panel discussions, a facilitated forum was conducted to generate ideas that will define future workshops to discuss Bermuda’s energy future.

The overall objective was to capture the thoughts, ideas and expectations from all of the stakeholders to assist in defining the national energy plan, drive legislation and the regulation of energy to foster the creation of a sustainable energy portfolio for the future.

Mr. Speaker, the Energy Summit was a great success and was well attended by over 90 stakeholders including overseas energy and regulatory officials and experts.

We were also pleased to have had representatives from local companies and organizations including;

  • the Association of Bermuda International Companies [ABIC],
  • the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurance [ABIR]
  • as well as stakeholders involved directly in the energy sector such as
    • ExxonMobil Bermuda [now SOL Petroleum]
    • BELCo
    • Bermuda Gas
    • BESCo and
    • Rubis Energy Bermuda.
  • Environmental organizations were also in attendance such as
    • Greenrock,
    • Bermuda Environmental and
    • Sustainability Taskforce [BEST]
  • and the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences [BIOS].

The Renewable Energy Sector was also represented at the Summit by Bermuda Engineering, Solar Bermuda Limited, The Green House Bermuda, Alternative Energy Solutions, Bermuda Alternative Energy, and the Energy Coalition Bermuda.

A number of statutory organizations and Government department officials also attended including; the Regulatory Authority, the Energy Commission, the Bermuda Energy Working Group and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Various other Ministries were involved in the Summit including the Ministry of Public Works, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism Development and Transportation, the Ministry of Health, Seniors and Environment, and the Ministry of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition was also represented, as was the Corporation of Hamilton, the Corporation of St. Georges, the Bermuda Land Development Corporation and the West End Development Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, copies of the presentations that were given at the Summit are in the process of being collated and will soon be available online on both the Summit’s website and the Department of Energy’s webpage on the Government Portal. Those sites can be found at BermudaEnergySummit.bm and Gov.bm.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda’s energy future is about change. We must re-frame the way we think, use, purchase, regulate and even source our energy – this transformation must therefore begin with dialogue. The Energy Summit was the commencement of that transformation process, by bringing together the widest range of stakeholders possible.

We did not expect to conclude the day with solutions, because we are still learning about the future work required, and understanding what questions need to be asked and what conversations need to pursued. This summit was about what’s best for Bermuda.

One thing is clear Mr. Speaker, we cannot continue to produce electricity exclusively from oil. There is too much risk, not just in terms of the volatility of pricing, but also in terms of the impact on the environment. We must examine other alternatives and create a diversified energy portfolio.

We must ensure that the technologies are robust, proven, and economically viable, and that the rules of engagement are equal to the task.

A crucial first step is to get the policies right, while creating a transparent regulatory environment that promotes affordable consumer prices, creates jobs and protects Bermuda’s environmental and economic future.

Mr. Speaker, the process of developing these policies and creating the regulatory regime to support them will take a tremendous amount of effort. However to assist in this process, the Department of Energy is in the final stages of engaging specialists consultants who are not only well versed in this area; but who are also very familiar with energy issues in small island jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, I shall elaborate on this proposed consulting engagement in a subsequent Ministerial Statement; but I am pleased to inform this Honourable House that the Department of Energy has also been working on interim measures to formalize Power Purchase Agreements between BELCo and the residential and commercial solar power owners.

The Department, on a very short-term contract, has engaged the firm of Gowling Lafluer Henderson to develop these interconnection and Power Purchase Agreements.

Their initial report has been received and is currently being reviewed, after which it will be shared with all the stakeholders, including the Energy Commission, the Bermuda Energy Working Group, the Solar power installers and of course BELCO as part of the implementation process.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (17)

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  1. Quoting Dr. Grant Gibbons”Mr. Speaker, Bermuda’s energy future is about change. We must re-frame the way we think, use, purchase, regulate and even source our energy – this transformation must therefore begin with dialogue. The Energy Summit was the commencement of that transformation process, by bringing together the widest range of stakeholders possible.”
    This will be if not the biggest step made, (or to possibly be made) by the O.B.A. and all Parties concerned… We definitely need / must find alternative means of providing “energy”!

  2. Bermewjan says:

    Well said Minister Gibbons!

  3. QB says:

    It is a relief to hear that Bermuda is planning for alternative sources of energy. It would be wonderful to se the world standard in clean environment as our current Clean Air Act standards are actually weaker than some very busy factory rich jurisdictions. in addition many of our schools are exposed to a great deal of pollution from Belco. It would be nice to see more competition in energy also as when you only have one provider they are not as liable to have to attend to maintenance and upgrading etc. as would be best for the environment.

    • Build a Better Bermuda says:

      The greatest challenge is finding a source that can produce a regular, constant and steady supply. Large scale solr and wind could help reduce our reliance on fossil fuel, however, we would still need the same amount of generators as we have now to react when there is no sun and wind, and a constant fluctuation of supply meeting demand can be tough to manage and lead to power outages. The different systems any management system would need to interact with and coordinate would be complex and can easily become a problem in itself. I do not dismiss the need to seek alternates to our current, however, we need to realistic about what can be achieved and when.

      • Why can’t it be as simple as turning on ones generator at our homes or other properties throughout the Island when we have power outages as we’d experienced recently? I think B.E.L.C.O. can do something similar if not the same…

  4. Puma says:

    One last item…bridges can be plexi glass tonnels ,why build over…we can go under!

  5. Jus' Askin' says:

    Bermuda really should consider Nuclear Power!!!
    “Pandora’s Promise” is a must see documentary for all those that will dislike my comment ;-)

    • ImJustSayin says:

      You are mad. Every Nuclear Reactor in the world leaks. Even when new. So please stay away from it. We are to small for such a dangerous system.

  6. ya fullish says:

    I disagree with the premise that we should pursue nuclear energy. Here’s the reality:

    ~yes it’s cheap (after infrastructure setup costs which are huge);
    ~where does the waste go? You can’t bury it here. You can’t sink it out in the deep sea (enviro watch dogs).
    ~You can sell it to a waste disposal company overseaa but now you’re liable for any liability should anything happen even 100 years from now not to mention the annual storage containment costs.
    ~But here’s the kicker, we have a water table underneath which we rely upon in events of drought etc. If a minor accident occurs then we’ve just contaminated our back up source of non salitated water and hence our entire population.

    Conclusion: nuclear is great is some countries; however, here it cannot

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      Again I would ask You to watch the documentary “Pandora’s Promise”.
      There have been major advancements in Nuclear Power.
      Please Watch ;-)

  7. ya fullish says:

    Continued:

    And great because of the emissions compared to burning fossil fuels; but here, it’s not an argument once you’re informed of the liability damages which we would be exposed to.

    • Jus' Askin' says:

      Have You looked at BELCO’s stacks recently?
      Not all of that blows away. Some of that lands on people’s roofs ;-)

  8. conspiracy theory says:

    Pebble bed modular reactor.

  9. bluebird says:

    Mr Gibbone please stop using “BIG WORDS”‘ that the PLP/BIU don’t understand.

  10. ImJustSayin says:

    They need to look at Bloom Energy witch is much better than Solar. 

    What is an Energy Server?

    Built with our patented solid oxide fuel cell technology, Bloom’s Energy Server™ is a new class of distributed power generator, producing clean, reliable, affordable electricity at the customer site.Fuel cells are devices that convert fuel into electricity through a clean electro-chemical process rather than dirty combustion. They are like batteries except that they always run. Our particular type of fuel cell technology is different than legacy “hydrogen” fuel cells in three main ways:Low cost materials – our cells use a common sand-like powder instead of precious metals like platinum or corrosive materials like acids.High electrical efficiency – we can convert fuel into electricity at nearly twice the rate of some legacy technologiesFuel flexibility – our systems are capable of using either renewable or fossil fuelsEach Bloom Energy Server provides 200kW of power, enough to meet the baseload needs of 160 average homes or an office building… day and night, in roughly the footprint of a standard parking space. For more power simply add more energy servers.

  11. ImJustSayin says:

    Want to know more on Bloom Energy. Here’s the link http://www.bloomenergy.com/