Future Of Electricity Supply & Use In Bermuda

December 18, 2015

Greenrock and BEST said they support a transition to an electricity system that is moving towards 100% renewable energy.

A joint statement from the two groups said, “The future of our electricity supply is an important topic for debate and has a significant impact on Bermuda’s ‘triple bottom line’ of Environmental, Social, and Economic Sustainability.

“Earlier this year the Department of Energy published a new Electricity Policy, and have just followed this by tabling a new Electricity Bill for Bermuda. The Objective of the proposed Act is “to achieve, as far as possible, least cost, high quality, environmentally sustainable, secure, and affordable electricity service for the people of Bermuda.”

“Greenrock and BEST feel that it is important that Bermudians are involved and informed in the current debate.

“Greenrock and BEST support a transition to an electricity system that is moving towards 100% renewable energy. In our opinion this is the best way to safeguard our future, to support jobs in a new industry supplying energy conservation technology and installing renewable energy, and to stop sending tens of millions of dollars each year overseas to pay for fossil fuels.

“This is arguably the best choice for our long-term economic interests.

“We support the Objectives stated by the Government and believe that “least cost, high quality, environmentally sustainable, secure, and affordable electricity service” can best be achieved by applying the following principles in all energy decision-making, by all stakeholders:

  1. “Efficiency and conservation should be prioritized – this will reduce costs and make it more likely that we can take advantage of new technology. We believe that immediate investment in smart grid infrastructure is an important part of this effort.
  2. “Environmental Externalities should be costed into every electricity investment decision – the pollution and greenhouse gas emissions associated with continuing to use fossil-fuels will have an impact on Bermuda, and so “least cost” electricity should include these costs.
  3. “Standardized Power Purchase Agreements [PPAs] should be finalized immediately to facilitate non-traditional energy sources, which are likely to be lower cost and lower impact than burning fossil-fuels

“What are some immediate implications of these principles?

“Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG], for example, may have a lower environmental impact than other fossil fuels  [both during electricity generation and as a fuel for vehicles] but the full environmental, social and economic cost of extracting [including fracking] and bringing LNG to the island should be assessed and made public before a final decision is made to invest in LNG for electricity generation.

“With a view towards the future, we hope that Government, BELCO and all other stakeholders work to diversify our energy mix and progressively incorporate more environmentally sustainable energy sources.

“Specifically in the short term, we encourage BELCO to be true to its promise to install “10,000 solar roofs” and to get started on that programme immediately.”

“Greenrock and BEST are working together on the future of our electricity supply.

“This needs to truly be a joint problem-solving effort with collaboration between all key stakeholders, so that we can collectively arrive at a strategy to facilitate renewable investment and deployment.

“In pursuit of this collective approach, the two environmental charities also call for the new Electricity Regulatory Authority to establish a public repository for all relevant data from all stakeholders, with public access.

“Bermuda is a small jurisdiction and decisions on electricity policy and investment have a long-term impact, and large financial stakes, in which we are all involved.”

Carol Dixon and Dr. Judith Landsberg, of Greenrock, stated that “this is an exciting time for Bermuda’s energy suppliers and for consumers – we have the opportunity not only to dream about a future which is better than today, but to put in place the foundation for this future. In 15 years time we hope to be supplying all of our own energy – without relying on dirty fuel or supply chains which are at the whim of political changes and vested interests subverting the public interest.”

Harry Masters of BEST states, “We welcome a framework for the electricity industry that allows new participants and lower-carbon technologies into the marketplace. Energy plays a massive role in our society, affecting the cost of living and doing business, the conditions of our local environment, and the dynamics of our global climate. Though our energy usage is relatively small compared to other nations, Bermuda as a small island will disproportionately experience the negative effects of climate change.

“For this reason we at BEST encourage the relevant policymakers to investigate how best to reduce fossil fuel use while ensuring electricity prices can sustainably support our economy and our people. This is a dynamic and exciting time for energy on our island and around the world, and we encourage everyone to give input for the future of our island.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. voltage says:

    It is nice to see a collaborative statement from these two groups. Maybe it will lead to other ways to increase environmental impact and decrease the duplicate expenses of multiple organisations working in our environmental space.

    Impressed with the young Bermudian Harry Masters and wonder where the new ED of Greenrock, Jonathan Starling’s voice has gone?

    Looking forward to the fulfillment of the promise on the table by BELCO of 10,000 solar roofs. I hope this is in addition to developing the solar farm on the finger at the airport.

  2. bluebird says:

    Such impressive WORDS.
    Now where is the money comming from to do all of this or are we going to have another tag day.
    I hope all these folks who are leading the way are giving up there CARS etc to set a good example.

    • Herb says:

      I agree with you Bluebird

      10,000. solar roofs, really, is Govt going to be using tax dollars to help pay for these.
      by subsidising them as they have in the past.

      Part of our charm and culture are our white roofs, go and take a drive by that building on Harbour rd that is loaded with black panels, tell me what you think of that and what our island would look like with half or more of our roofs covered in black.

      A $200 million dollar solar farm at the airport, that means that we are going to be sending at least half of that out of the country for the cost of these panels which by the way only last 20 – 25 yrs and then have to be replaced. The investors of this operation will want a return on their money, how much are you willing to pay for your electricity, because i can assure you it will not be cheaper than what we have now.

      These panels have to be made and do not leave a clean footprint as many people tend to believe, the ones in china are made at coal fired plants, making glass takes a lot of energy.

      I agree with solar but at what expense is what i am trying to get across here.

      • Photon Jim says:

        Government stopped solar subsidies well over a year ago and if you look at the latest cost projections for solar technology, modest cost declines are set to continue through to 2020. The cost of electricity provided by solar systems installed in Bermuda typically ranges from 12-18 cents per kWh, so is already cost competitive with BELCO.

        So far as the white roofs, there are also many buildings across the island with solar panels that you would never notice. It’s all a question of careful design, which requires discretion on the part of the property owner and solar installation company. Planning/Government are not in the business of turning down applications for solar, and most property owners would not think it reasonable to be denied the opportunity to generate clean free electricity from their own roofs. Rain water harvesting is also a part of our community’s charm, and solar energy harvesting is rapidly joining it. Perhaps we should be more concerned about sea level rise and other effects of climate destabilization, which arguably pose a much greater threat?

        By the way, many of BELCO’s generators last only 25 years and then have to be replaced (requiring ongoing maintenance for most of their lifetime), so 25 years for a solar power plant with very little maintenance is a perfectly acceptable lifespan. Of course the majority of the cost of these, and all of the fuel cost over this time goes overseas (some $240 million of fuel per 10MW generator over its lifetime), which vastly exceeds the sums that would be spent on the same amount of solar energy.

        Solar electricity for systems generating power in Bermuda are already consistently providing cheaper power than BELCO, often in the range of 12-18 cents per kWh, and some solar farms in the US are selling the cheapest electricity in the country (3.87 cents per kWh for First Solar’s Playa Solar 2 project).

        While materials and energy are required to produce solar panels, a wide range of studies have found that the energy used in their manufacture is generated within a year or two of operation, and the net environmental impact is far lower than fossil fuel based energy systems. Perhaps question why else would so many nations be rapidly deploying solar en-masse if it didn’t provide an environmental and economical advantage?

        I agree with solar, but why is it taking so long to get these big projects going?! We’re wasting money every day we continue to burn oil.

  3. Utube the cube…it is already supplying factories and businesses within the U.S…..we should have it here…it is far better than our oil based system!

  4. JUNK YARD DOG says:

    The time is long over due to embark on a system of conservation, as it will be years before we get to see any appreciable changes.

  5. Will says:

    There is no reason why in this day in age bermuda should be using fossil fuels. Wake up people we have ample solar, wind and hydro options right at our doorstep. Free energy for all should be in the next throne speech. Ridiculous that we still rely on dirty fuels that do naught but pollute our beautiful planet.

    • Come Correct says:

      Then upset the US because we aren’t buying their stolen oil anymore? How dare you.

  6. craig looby says:

    Published Aug 26, 2015

    The following was also submitted to the Ministry of Economic Development and the Energy Commission in reply to the draft energy policy legislation. It is designed to inform the people of Bermuda that other options for the future exist, the argument being that the Government is not being progressive enough on the renewable side in terms of regulation.

    By Craig Looby

    Bermuda could be an example to the world and the LNG (liquefied natural gas) plant proposal should be stopped. All the money they want to flush down the toilet to keep the existing centralised status quo can be used to turn the Island into an alternative energy haven. It is being predicted by financial experts in the United States that the fracking industry is going to implode next year. So natural gas from the US will not be as cheap as predicted; in fact, the industry may shut down. Belco will not be buying LNG from the US. Their plan is so poorly thought out!

    The existing draft is disappointing. Belco is being protected and the people who are looking to enter the industry at the utility-provider level are being left out of the process. The Bermudian public deserves and should be demanding better from this process that is supposed to be ending the Belco monopoly and establishing the path for Bermuda to be free of imported fuel.

    Those looking to enter the industry as utility providers should be at these closed-door meetings at the very least … and in keeping with the transparency pledge of the present government, there should be no “old boys network”, secret closed-door meetings at all. We who are seeking to enter the utility scale operations sector are being told that we need to provide a comprehensive understanding with data and information on our proposals. This supposedly will be considered as per the present direction of the draft energy policy, which is being based on a flawed perspective.

    The challenge is that if we are submitting by September xx, does this seriously mean our submission will have any impact on a decision-making process that is scheduled to meet in October/November? This deadline is too short of a window for such detailed presentations to be submitted. And Belco has not put forward any official data to the public, and it is unknown if it has submitted a formal proposal to the energy ministry.

    Since Belco’s plant is at the end of its life, everyone in the space of utility scale generation should be treated equally, since all proposals have to be vetted equally, as there has been only one model in operation in Bermuda’s history. And the level of red tape is not attractive to external capital investors, and will drive them away from Bermuda to other locations. This is an historical moment, when a crucial decision must be made by the Government and the people as to the future of energy production. In the view of many, not all options have been considered and the process should be slowed so all options are at the table.

    It is also clear that Belco does not have the vision to save the day. With the technology that exists today, Bermuda has the opportunity to end its need for fossil fuel. Don’t just think of Bermuda, look at the world today and consider national security.

    The price of importing fossil fuels will not lower the price of electricity, and converting to LNG will just be a huge expense paid for by the people. Bermuda is surrounded with an endless amount of energy. That being hydrogen, which is in water. There are many methods to extract H2 and UMI has experts in the field, on its deployment team to produce a simple scenario for an energy-independent Bermuda.

    The Bermuda Government established the Department of Energy to take the lead in meeting both the challenges of Bermuda’s own need for energy and our responsibility to set an example for the rest of the world.

    The Department of Energy’s strategic goals are to:

    1, Ensure a secure energy supply, in terms of both quantity and cost

    2, Reduce fossil fuel dependency

    3, Encourage greenhouse gas emissions, reductions related to energy

    The UMI Power Master Plan for Bermuda does the following:

    1, Provides a secure energy supply in 200 MW quantity and at a low cost to end users

    2, Ends fossil fuel dependency; Bermuda will make its own fuel

    3, Ends greenhouse gas emissions related to energy

    Using a mixture of utility scale renewable sources, UMI will provide 200 MW of base power. There is game-changing technology in deployment today and Bermuda will be at the cutting edge of power generation technology.

    This wind-farm portion of the renewable mix will be located 20-plus miles out to sea and barely visible from the Island. At least 12 MW would be dedicated to H2 production. Hydrogen will be used for two things:

    1, As an energy carrier or energy storage if it’s easier to understand

    2, As a fuel for vehicles and boats, and fuel-cell back-up power for homes and businesses. Hydrogen can also be made on demand by chemical reaction without electricity

    Bermuda can vastly reduce its need for imported fuel. As we know, wind and solar are spotted, so to balance the grid we would use highly efficient H2-fired turbines in a smaller substation scenario for storm protection. Our target price for electricity would be 26 cents per kWh. Prices would gradually come down even further as the investment is paid off.

    The target price for H2 as fuel would be at least one third less than what the cost is now for imported fuel and again would come down as the investment is paid off. Low power rates and transportation fuel prices such as these will present various opportunities to make Bermuda a more affordable place to live and to do business. This transition to a clean and renewable economy and energy-independent Bermuda would create new jobs and higher academics. Belco’s plan will not. In fact, its plan is antiquated and will offer no change to the enslavement of the people of Bermuda to big oil. Bermuda needs to make its voice heard, to stop the process of the imbalanced proposed electricity draft legislation from going through to become law, but to reform the development process of this legislation so it becomes a totally open process so everyone can know what is going on, every one can put forward their data, and a framework based on what’s best for the Island is achieved versus what’s best for an old monopoly that is trying to cling to life.

    This can be done by making this process fairer and more open. The regulatory authority should be online first and that office be involved in drafting the legislation because it’s the regulatory authority’s job to create a fair and balanced process.

    Bermuda, you have until Monday to add your voices to ours and stop this process so that better options that will help Bermuda are allowed in the process and calculations to formulate the energy policy, which will provide cheaper power.

    And to ensure the powers that be hear the voices of Bermudians on this matter, a series of public demonstrations should be organised and sustained to demand and secure a reformed process of developing Bermuda’s energy policies.

    UMI will be soon holding town hall meetings and making use of other media to inform and educate the Bermuda population on its $2 billion master development plan that shall include the introduction of other leading industries to operate on the Island, which in return will create many jobs in the short and long term.

    We would like to make direct contact with Belco shareholders to present a proposal.