|Neymour says government adopting FNM’s energy plan|
Guardian Senior Reporter
Published: Aug 18, 2012
Former Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour said plans for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) to ultimately lower electricity costs, which were outlined by Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett in the House of Assembly, were a complete “copy” of plans left in place by the Ingraham administration.
On Wednesday, the minister said plans are in the works for the introduction of a Renewable Energy Act, further reductions and/or exemptions on energy efficient appliances and to create an electricity sector regulator.
He said the government wants private investors to build solar plants with a long-term contract for the sale of power produced to BEC, which would then be responsible for supplying consumers on existing distribution lines.
The government is also reviewing proposals to implement solar energy plants, waste-to-energy plants and ocean thermal energy plants in The Bahamas, Dorsett said.
Neymour argued that Dorsett had only reiterated the Free National Movement’s (FNM) previous policies on energy in Parliament this week.
“His plan for energy in the future, it would appear [to be taken] directly from speeches that I have made outside and inside the House of Assembly,” Neymour told The Nassau Guardian when contacted for comment.
“If one were to read the FNM Manifesto for the 2012 election, it almost appeared as if he was copying from the FNM’s page on energy.
“For instance, he talked about creating the Renewable Energy Act; an Act has already been put in motion that was the plan of the FNM; you’ll find that in the [party’s] Manifesto.
“Also, he spoke about amendments to the Electricity Act and that he was seeking a draft from the attorney general’s office. Well, a draft had already been done by the AG’s office and if he wants to know where it is I can help him find it.”
Plans to create a Renewable Energy Act and amend the Electricity Act were mentioned in the FNM’s Manifesto.
“He also spoke about net metering. That has already been addressed by the Free National Movement. It was already considered by the board of BEC and BEC has already agreed to it, so he presented nothing new there. The list goes on,” Neymour said.
Dorsett also said the government is considering privatizing BEC.
“The government has received proposals from local and foreign interests, including a takeover or partial provision of the generating capacity by the private sector, and the sale of electricity to BEC for sale to consumers, to the outright purchase of BEC by private interests and the sale of electricity directly to consumers,” Dorsett said.
“We truly realize reducing the cost of electricity is a national challenge.”
Neymour said the FNM laid some groundwork on privatization before it was voted out of office on May 7.
“The [former] prime minister has stated and I have stated that the government made a commitment to seek to privatize BEC,” he said.
“We also were seeking to have independent power producers who will supply power directly to BEC, to the grid. Those were issues we had discussed in the press and in the House of Assembly.”
Dorsett also said the government is considering proposals to increase base load generation and save BEC $100 million annually, which can be passed on to consumers.
However, Neymour scoffed at the idea that the Christie administration had any real proposals that could save BEC that much money.
“Every reporter should ask him to substantiate how he derived that figure [of $100 million],” he said.