By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
A $15M SOLAR farm will be constructed on Grand Bahama, making it the first of its kind in The Bahamas.
The licensing and power purchase agreements were signed yesterday between the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the Grand Bahama Power Company with Lucaya Solar Power Ltd.
The project, financed through IDB Invest, will consist of two solar sites — one at Fairfield and another at Devon — together occupying over 30 acres and generating 9.5 megawatts of energy.
Some 80 persons are expected to be employed during the construction phase.
The cost of electricity has been an ongoing concern for consumers on Grand Bahama, and GBPC executives have given an assurance that this new solar farm will help to stabilise the cost of power, create a resilient electric system, and get us off foreign oil.
GBPA President Ian Rolle said the “pioneering” project is 65 percent owned by Bahamians.
“Grand Bahama has a long history of pioneering new industries and today is no different. Today, we at GBPA are pleased and proud to announce the licensing of Lucaya Solar Power Ltd, a new solar power generation project on Grand Bahama, under partnership through a power purchase agreement with GBPC,” he said.
“This project is the first of its kind for the nation, supported by a pioneering regulatory framework created in 2012, which was introduced as another first of its kind for the region,” he added.
“Not only does this project reduce our carbon footprint, and heavy reliance on fuel for power generation, but we are also pleased to learn it breaks new ground in gender equality with 70 percent of its installation being led by women engineers,” he said.
He noted that it is a small and essential step in the direction of generating cleaner, more affordable and sustainable electricity for citizens on the island.
Derek Newbold, chief operating officer at GBPA, said Grand Bahama will have the first utility-scale solar farm operation in the country.
“It is a $15m investment,” he said. “It will sit on two sites spread out over 30 acres, and generate on average 9.5mw of energy.”
In terms of employment after construction, Jorge Marquez, of LSP Ltd, said they will hire about four persons because that type of facility does not require intensive manpower to operate and maintain.
“We think two on the field and two in administrating … for operation and maintenance of the project,” said Mr Marquez.
“I think it is something The Bahamas needs, and hopefully more investments come in this direction,” he said.
Dave McGregor, GBPC president, hailed the moment as historic.
“This is an historic moment for (Grand Bahama) and for GBPC, in signing our first independent power producer PPA contract with LSP,” he stated.
“It has been a long winding road; and you (LSP) beat GBPC to be the first solar project on the island. We are still developing our own (solar) project.”
Mr McGregor welcomes the project.
“It will get the island on a great start to the renewable transformation, and together provide around six percent of our energy usage,” he added.
“So, we are really looking forward to welcoming that resilient, clean energy system and start getting us off that expensive foreign oil. We are giving away our foreign exchange and importing expensive foreign oil, so a great first step” he said.