Representatives of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) travelled to Abaco to share their power expansion plans with the public and receive feedback as they plan to improve the quality of service on the island.
Clarke Allen, Project Engineer for BEC, said that the forum was held to “invite members of the public to get a copy of the Environmental Management program (EMP), view it and tell us what you think of it. If there is something we are proposing to do and it’s not right or could be better, please let us know. We really value your comments and feedback.”
He said that BEC has already gone through a number of preliminary stages. “We first spoke with the district councils, then with Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) to see how we might impact the environment, the Port Department and now the general public.” He said that when they get positive feedback from the public they will be ready to move toward implementation.
The first phase of the project will concern expansion to the Wilson City Power Station. “We intend to move two of the engines from the Marsh Harbour Power Station and relocate them to the Wilson City Power Station,” he said. “What that will do is allow us to more efficiently generate electricity.”
Mr. Clarke noted that currently BEC needs two large engines (12 MW each) and they are running at around 50-60 percent capacity. “We are aware that an engine is most efficient between 85 and 90 percent of its capacity, these two smaller engines will allow us to more efficiently generate electricity,” he said.
The second aspect will be to run a cable from the mainland of Abaco to the island of Great Guana Cay.
“Two things happen here: Firstly we are able to supply Baker’s Bay Resort and secondly we are able to have a closer staging point to supply Scotland Cay and Man-O-War Cay,” he said. This would give BEC the ability to “back-feed” Scotland Cay, Man-O-War Cay and Elbow Cay in the event that we have a power supply failure from the mainland going to Hope Town or Matt Lowe Cay.
The third aspect of the project is to reinforce the existing feeder supplying Hope Town.
“One of the problems we are having with the Hope Town feeder is an over capacity issue, especially during the summer months,” Mr. Clarke said.
He said that when BEC lays the cable to Guana Cay they will put it below the surface of the sea bed, unlike the cable which presently goes to Elbow Cay. They are doing this to improve the reliability of the power supply. Right now our cables are getting dragged by boat anchors and they are exposed to the elements, whether it’s man made elements or not.
He said the route they have chosen from the mainland to Guana Cay “does not appear to impact any reefs or ecosystems and there is very little grass; it’s mostly clear sand. We are also getting professional studies done to ensure that nothing is impacted.”