Column: BELCO Journey Towards Sustainability

April 22, 2022

[Column written by BELCO's Krista Barnes]

Dear Residents of Bermuda,

On Earth Day 2021, we made a bold and public commitment to you. We promised to join you, unifying our efforts, to ensure Bermuda’s journey towards sustainability is progressive, efficient, innovative, and sound. While our journey towards sustainability is ongoing, our unwavering commitment to a safe, secure, and sustainable energy future remains.

Today, on Earth Day 2022, we are proud to share the progress we’ve made over the past year:

Net Zero 2050

We are committed to achieving carbon net zero by 2050. That is the process of balancing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we produce with the amount we remove from the atmosphere. In other words, we will make operational changes to reduce our carbon emissions to the lowest amount possible and offset what we cannot as a last resort.

This commitment also extends to offsetting the carbon footprint of each one of our employees achieving carbon neutrality for our entire team. In the first quarter of this programme, we are proud to boast that we were able to offset 2.60 tonnes of CO2 per employee, which is equivalent to planting 240 trees!

Renewable Power Generation

As we continue to monitor and assess improvements in alternative power-generating technologies, we remain firmly committed to our B100 initiative and are focused on transitioning to a renewable power system. While this transition is ongoing, we are laying the foundation to ensure that our energy future is sustainable and locally appropriate.

Transmission & Distribution Upgrades

Work also started in 2021 and continues today on upgrading our transmission and distribution infrastructure that will ensure a safer, more reliable grid capable of accommodating the intermittent nature of most renewable technologies as they come online. One of the first phases of the grid modernisation project was in the east end to accommodate the six megawatts of power from the Airport Solar Finger Installation, which is now feeding into the grid.

Asset Retirement Project

Our Asset Retirement Project began in 2021 and continues today. Once the project is complete, we will have successfully dismantled and decommissioned 8 of our 16 engines along with 4 of our 8 gas turbines. In addition, 5 of our smokestacks will be demolished while site remediation efforts are undertaken throughout the entire project duration.

The asset retirement project is progressing on time and will prepare our campus for the future requirements of diversifying our energy sources, which brings us one step closer to Bermuda’s sustainable energy future.

Electric Vehicle Fleet

As part of our efforts to further reduce our carbon footprint, we are transitioning to an entirely electric commercial vehicle fleet. BELCO operates an intermediate/light vehicle fleet of which 83% are electric vehicles [EVs]. The five non-EVs will be retired from the fleet once they have reached the end of their useful lives and replaced with EVs.

BELCO also operates a heavy vehicle fleet that includes specialty vehicles, like bucket trucks, recovery trucks, pole digger trucks, and winch/crane trucks. While the intention is to transition this fleet to EVs, currently there is no viable option to meet our demands for these vehicles. Given the rapidly developing technology, we are hopeful that we will be able to start transitioning to an electric heavy fleet in 2024.

Internal Sustainability Efforts

We have also taken steps internally to transition to a more environmentally sustainable company through the migration of customers to e-billing, which has had a significant impact on our paper consumption, and we launched a communications programme on how to live more sustainably that will allow our team of 234 employees to assist Bermuda on her journey.

In addition, we are proud to share that our company canteen has committed to eliminating the use of single use plastics by the end of 2022!

Social Sustainability

We are aware that sustainability extends beyond our environmental impact. It includes our impact on the community. Since Earth Day 2021, we have encouraged and empowered our staff who have volunteered their time to support 61 registered charities and 12 community initiatives focused on sustainability.

Our team has worked on various community projects throughout the year, including participating in Keep Bermuda Beautiful clean-ups, providing groceries for over 1,000 families, working on improvements at Wind Reach, assisting the Bermuda Audubon Society, helping Meals on Wheels over the holidays, a food drive for the Royal Bermuda Regiment, a toy drive for the Coalition for the Protection of Children, and volunteering efforts with the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo.

Our team initiatives have also included raising funds for notable local charities, including the Women’s Resource Centre, The Foster Parent Association of Bermuda, The Diabetes Association of Bermuda, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the BELCO Hardship Fund and more.

At BELCO, beyond our community support, we have upheld our commitment to educating Bermuda’s future leaders through our scholarship programme and our apprenticeship programme. In addition, we have remained committed to training our own team to ensure Bermudians continue to power Bermuda.

We endeavour to continually improve our operations and better the community within which we operate. Our progress towards Bermuda’s sustainable future in the past year is evidence of our commitment.

Together, let’s make everyday Earth Day!

- Krista Barnes, BELCO Communications & Sustainability Director

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