Thursday, August 10, 2017
By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Power & Light’s (BPL) chief executive Pam Hill said yesterday the company is aiming to improve efficiency at its plants and is also pursuing a fuel hedging strategy as a means to provide lower electricity costs to consumers.
Ms Hill, who spoke to reporters after addressing the Rotary Club of East Nassau said: “We are working on two key things. One of them is to improve the efficiency of our plants so they are able to burn less diesel and less heavy fuel oil. You do that by going in early, doing the preventative maintenance, looking at everything associated with the plant and essentially getting more miles per gallon.”
Ms Hill further noted the company was pursuing a fuel hedging strategy as a means to help reduce the company’s exposure to volatile and potentially rising fuel costs.
“Another area we are looking at really revolves around the prices themselves and looking at ways to add more stability to fuel prices,” she added.
“We are looking out for our customers and looking to find a product where we can have less ups and downs so that 10 per cent, maybe 20 per cent or 50 per cent of their fuel price is stable or fixed.”
Ms Hill said BPL had witnessed its ‘highest ever’ peak demand over the past two months adding the company was still utilising the 80 megawatt (MW) rental units as part of its generation fleet through the company Aggreko.
Ms Hill said BPL had hit its highest ever peak demand back in June, only to ‘blow past that,’ in July.
“We hit a new peak, the highest ever in June and blew past that in July. That peak was roughly 245-250 megawatts. You never want to have enough reserve power only for your peak. How we look at it is in the event that two of our largest engines went off line. Our two largest engines are about 30 megawatts or so which takes you to about 310 mega watts that you want to have readily available at all times. Of that, 80 megawatts of is rental generation. The total generation that BPL has in Nassau, including the generation that is really not working very well is as much as 420 mega watts,” said Ms Hill.
“The rental generation is very inefficient and is very strongly priced. It is well priced for our customers. It is both efficient and it is also reliable for our customers. It is on the lower end of the total fuel cost that our customers incur.”
As to how long the company would have to rely on the rentals, Ms Hill said: “The purpose is to have a stand in as we build a new power generation the company. That will probably take 18 months on the low end to two years at the high end to put in place. We are looking at that sort of time frame to have some sort of temporary generation in place.”
Ms Hill estimated BPL’s overall fuel cost was currently in the range of $0.12-$0.13 cents per kilowatt hour.
Last February, PowerSecure signed a five-year management services agreement with the Government to run BPL, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation’s (BEC’s) newly-created operating subsidiary. Then, on February 25, PowerSecure announced the Atlanta-based utility giant, Southern Company, had acquired it it for $431 million making PowerSecure a wholly-owned subsidiary.