Video: Minister Dickinson & Minister Furbert

November 10, 2021 | 6 Comments

[Updated] Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson and Acting Minister of Public Works Wayne Furbert will be holding a joint post Throne Speech press conference this afternoon [Nov 10] and we will stream it live, so the video below should start at around 4.00pm.

Update: The live broadcast has concluded and the 31-minute replay is below

Update 5.00pm: Minister Furbert’s remarks:

Good afternoon.

Following the November 5th Speech from the Throne, as the Acting Minister of Public Works, I would like to provide an update on last year’s initiatives and highlight the critical status of the Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility and what this Government is doing to address it.

In the November 2020 Speech from the Throne, the Ministry of Public Works focus was on three initiatives:

  • 1. Introducing legislation to grant leasehold interest in the St. Georges Club to the St. Regis Hotel developers;
  • 2. Constructing a marina in the Town of St. George’s; and
  • 3. Advance legislation to bring about municipal reform for the Corporation of Hamilton and St. Georges.

I am pleased to advise that a solution had been found to advance the Marina project for St. George’s which will see the Corporation of St. George’s benefit from a leasehold arrangement and the rental income and revenue that will come. In a ministerial statement to the House of Assembly on Friday I will provide additional details, including a timeline for the start of work on the Marina as well as a projected date for completion.

The public will be aware that the matter related to the Municipalities Act is before the courts. As a result I cannot comment further at this time.

Friday’s Speech from the Throne raised the issue of Bermuda’s waste management being an infrastructure crisis that we must devote all efforts to solving.

Located on Palmetto Road in Devonshire, Tynes Bay Waste-to-Energy Facility is a mass-burn waste-to-energy plant that combusts refuse and produces high-pressure steam for power production. It generates approximately One Hundred and Twenty-Five Thousand Kilowatt-hours per day. Most of that power is sold back to Belco through the power grid. Still, a third of it is utilized internally to power the plant and the Tynes Bay Seawater reverse Osmosis plant next door, which produces some seven hundred and fifty thousand [750,000] gallons of freshwater per day from renewable energy.

Critical Status

The public will recall that the plant is now over 25 years old and has undergone major refurbishments. In 2009, elements of the waste burning units within the plant had reached their useful lifecycle resulting in the plant experiencing frequent breakdowns and an excessive accumulation of solid waste. In 2010/2011, $22Million was spent on plant upgrades to ensure the island’s solid waste disposal program continued to meet the island’s needs. While the facility upgrades were a significant investment, they were estimated to last only ten years.

With this in mind, in June 2012, Tynes Bay management decided to move towards creating a new foundation for Bermuda by seeking budgetary estimates from reputable contractors in the Waste to Energy Field for the design, supply, delivery, construction and commissioning of a complete third Unit. This third unit would ensure that the engineers could upgrade one of the existing units through proper future planning. The budgetary estimate provided at that time was $95Million.

The priority of addressing the issues with Tynes Bay took a distant second place to the America’s Cup under the previous Administration and as result the focus on the critical status of the plant was re-directed towards supporting that sporting event. In the interim, the engineers kept the plant going without the benefit of the necessary support and funding.

In 2018, the Plant’s management conducted a feasibility study to provide Cabinet with a better understanding of the risk and lifecycle of the plant’s systems. The results of this data-driven study indicated that over $30M in critical systems would fail between 2019 -2022 and require replacement. These systems included the same boiler unit elements upgraded in 2010/2011, obsolete electrical switchgear and protection systems, the central crane units, and essential pumps. The very same systems that should have formed part of a planned and continued upgrade in fiscal year 2013/14.

I can advise the public that as it stands now, the plant has experienced:

  • Failure of a critical 27-year-old pump;
  • Loss of a transformer unit;
  • Monthly failures of both boiler unit economizer tubes; and
  • Quarterly failure of the superheater tubes.

Ongoing Maintenance Costs

The Primary maintenance costs stem from the amount spent on boiler leak repairs which continues to increase. In 2018 and 2019, the average spend was $22,000 per year. In 2020, it increased almost fivefold to $94,000. These were for one or two repairs per year. However, in stark contrast to the previous three years, as of 31 October 2021, there have been eight boiler leak repairs, the November repair estimate is $110,000, and December remains unknown. Presently, the total repair estimate for 2021 is over $536,000, and once again, more than a fivefold increase on the previous year.

It is essential to note that these costs do not account for the revenue lost when the units are not producing electricity, estimated at $20,000 per day.

Recurring Issues

As previously stated, Tynes Bay is over 25 years old, and with that age come the same recurring issues. For example, the Unit # 1 boiler underwent repairs this past September and October, yet developed another leak on Saturday. And unit # 2, which was running for five weeks, and the longest it has run in 6 months, developed a leak on Sunday gone.

Both units will need to come offline to prevent further damage, but we must balance our need to manage the island’s garbage with how we affect repairs. Two teams of welders will be deployed from Germany to address the leaks, and both boilers will be shut down.

It is clear that Bermuda is in dire and desperate need of a new facility.

Solutions

The Ministry’s immediate strategy is to work toward ensuring the system remains operational. As we move into 2022, the plan is to invest an additional $7.5 million into stabilizing the plant. This solution is short term and is estimated to last for 3-4 years. This will provide the Ministry, working with other stakeholders, the time to develop the business case necessary to support the funding proposals for such a major capital development; source the best model for the replacement plant and conduct the appropriate change in operations to provide seamless waste disposal for the people of Bermuda.

The choice is simple: we can either invest $150 million to make significant upgrades to the plant or resort to dumping garbage in a landfill. The latter is a step backwards and I know that it cannot be allowed to become our fate.

In his post-Throne Speech press conference, the Leader of the Opposition said, “why now? When we could be using the funds to support the economy, social programs and education.” The answer is quite simple. Firstly, Tynes Bay has gone beyond its life cycle, and it’s about to give up. If we do not take the necessary steps now, we will have no other choice but to build up trash around the Island. This is not the quality of life or environmental impact the Government wants.

Cross-Ministry Project Committee

Despite the significant challenges with this project, I am pleased to advise that the plant is already on the path to refurbishment. The Government created a cross-ministry team to accelerate the replacement of critical assets and components within the facility in the short term, with the ultimate goal of a fully refurbished and repurposed facility within the next three to four years and finding creative funding solutions.

We envision long-term funding from the combined Tynes Bay and water and wastewater infrastructure currently underway, forming part of a new waste and water utility.

This project will see the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy facility repurposed as a central energy hub for the Waste Water infrastructure, forming a combined Waste and Water recovery utility that will attract investment partners.

Essentially, this new utility will produce freshwater from garbage and sewage, using the Tynes Bay plant to power water production and sewage treatment processes within the same facility.

I am confident that this new combined utility will capitalize on the natural synergies between Waste-to-Energy and water production and provide a sustainable and resilient means of water production and waste disposal for the island.

Thank you.

Minister Dickinson’s remarks:

Good afternoon.

[Thank you Minister Furbert]. As I begin my remarks today, I once again wish to acknowledge the continued contribution of our front line workers, to the protection and support of our community in the face of this unrelenting pandemic.

My remarks today are to provide some brief context on certain initiatives highlighted in last week’s Throne Speech that directly involve the Ministry of Finance.

Pension Fees

In a Ministerial Statement on 10 September 2021, I provided an update on progress made to enhance the conduct framework for the financial services sector in Bermuda. The objective is to provide additional requirements regarding the conduct of institutions and the protection of customers. This will be achieved with amendments to the Bank and Deposit Companies Act 1999 that provide additional powers to the Bermuda Monetary Authority to allow them to adopt and enforce clear and consistent regulatory processes.

Last week’s Throne Speech identified another initiative relating to private pension plans, or more specifically, private defined contribution plans. These are the pensions most employees in the private sector have in Bermuda, where periodic payments are made into the plan by the employee and/or their employer.

In these plans, the retirement income that a plan participant receives, upon retirement, depends on how much is paid in and how it is invested over time [i.e. rather than a formula based on number of years with your employer]. Therefore, the return on the investments that are achieved by an individual participant’s plan is a critical factor in the affordability of their retirement.

However, the return that a participant receives is after all fees have been paid. This may include management fees and expenses charged by fund managers, but also includes fees charged by service providers, such as administrators, trustees and custodians. Often the breakdown of these fees is not easily discernable. More importantly, many people do not understand the impact that the size of the fee makes on their future income potential.

Transparency and investor education related to this area should therefore form part of any financial conduct regime.

In fact, a small increase in return [i.e. resulting from a small cost saving] can have a very meaningful impact on future retirement income, especially over longer periods of time that funds are invested. Therefore, we will undertake an assessment, involving all stakeholders, to ascertain whether there are opportunities to lower costs to plan participants.

Thus far I have discussed our work to strengthen frameworks relating to local financial institutions which impact their clients. The Ministry of Finance is also committed to conduct and oversight within the Government and related entities that impacts the public at large.

Service on Boards and Quangos

As mentioned in the Throne Speech, service on Government boards and quangos has become more complex, as these bodies are delegated powers, and independently perform functions under various statutes but on behalf of the public.

The Ministry of Finance will continue its work to strengthen financial oversight and governance arrangements. As part of this work, we will be reviewing the requirements for all boards and quangos under our purview, to ensure that experience criteria are appropriate,, and that persons appointed are equipped to carry out their responsibilities. Where necessary, this will involve mandatory fiduciary training or professional accreditation in disciplines, such as legal, financial or accounting, and may be mandated through legislation as necessary.

In addition, as part of the reviews, the Ministry of Finance will also assess governance procedures and financial controls in place to ensure that they appropriately conform to best practices.

Reviews will also be extended to other entities for which the Ministry of Finance is required to give approval of budgets and work plans. It will also include any entities where the Government is deemed to have a significant financial interest or exposure.

Tynes Bay

Finally, I would like to provide brief comments that address the important issues highlighted by Minister Furbert’s remarks regarding Tynes Bay.

As you can imagine, any proposed replacement or refurbishment of our waste to energy plant is a large project. It will also involve a sizable financing requirement. In addition, we recongnise there is an imminent need to take action, and that Tynes Bay forms part of an even larger Water and Wastewater Master Plan, which requires an even greater level of financing.

Consequently, and in parallel with the work being carried out to assess options for the physical infrastructure, we are assessing potential financing structures that must form part of an overall business plan that is financially prudent. As there are real risks of potential failures at Tyne’s Bay, not to mention mounting maintenance and repair costs, we will work diligently to execute on the most optimal plan for the long term, which will balance securing the country’s infrastructure requirements with continued financial prudence.

We look forward to working together to address all of these issues, which in our view are important to the health and well-being of our community.

Thank you.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Ringmaster says:

    Sounds like more work for KPMG. Why don’t we disband the MoF, and probably many other Departments, and replace them with KPMG? Clearly Government has no competency in house, but taxpayers are paying double. Time to hold back things like land tax until a day late then pay it less the 15% collection fee (to an unlicensed collector) which is easily the payee. Why pay 100% when the rules have changed and Government only expects to collect 85%?

  2. Children stop itMr Flip Flop says:

    Dear Mr Flip Flop.You just can not blame your inept own govt for anything. Lets compare the time you lot have been in and the few years your trying to blame the OBA for, GROW UP. But to my point. There are a few countries one in scandinavia that actually IMPORT trash to burn to generate all of the countries power and sell it across borders. What about we do something like that ( not necessarily import ) but you ball bitch about belco well here is a way to compete. Far better than a wind farm or water power etc. You already supply some to Beco and use some as well at your locations. HOWEVER it would require a serious MAINTENANCE plan which to me appears to be sadly lacking.

  3. Now ya nice says:

    I can’t bear to listen to anything that comes out of Furberts mouth. He’s a career politician who has been on the payroll for 20 or more years and is famous for introducing nothing. His great idea to revolutionize the postal service is to use the taxes paid by both the retail sector and courier business to fund a government business that will compete against them and have no requirement or need to be profitable. Retire from politics please

    • Joe Bloggs says:

      You do not give Flip Flop Wayne Furbert enough credit. He was Minister for Transport under the UPB and he was the leader of the UBP in the 1990s. He has been in polytricks for much longer than 20 years.

      He crossed the floor of the House of Assembly when he realised that the UBP would never again be the party in power and he has been a loyal PLP lap-dog ever since

  4. Dunn juice says:

    Lawdy lawdy can you imagine the final cost of the incinerator. Wenknownthe guysbrecords on big contracts, and unknown entertainers.

  5. Joe Bloggs says:

    In the November 2020 Speech from the Throne, the Ministry of Public Works focus was on three initiatives:

    1. Introducing legislation to grant leasehold interest in the St. Georges Club to the St. Regis Hotel developers – read sell more of Bermuda to foreign interests

    2. Constructing a marina in the Town of St. George’s – this after the PLP Government destroyed the winter yacht industry in St. George by limiting stays to 3 weeks without Ministerial permission

    3. Advance legislation to bring about municipal reform for the Corporation of Hamilton and St. Georges – read take over the Town of St. George and the City of Hamilton for the profit of the PLP Government

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