Super Value to ‘duck’ energy hike via solar

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Rupert Roberts

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Super Value’s president yesterday said it plans to “duck” any long-term impact from higher Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) prices through the installation of solar power across its business beginning on August 2.

Rupert Roberts told Tribune Business he was hoping to slash the supermarket chain’s energy bill for its 13 stores and head office by up to 75 percent while acknowledging that, in the short-term, he may have to endure a return to $1m per month electricity bills.

Speaking after BPL indicated that higher fuel costs, coupled with the end of its existing fuel hedging strategy, will increase light bills this summer, Mr Roberts said management are monitoring “how much it jumps up compared to last year”. 

Supermarkets, with freezers, chillers, compressors and air conditioning that must run 24/7, are among the biggest electricity consumers in The Bahamas along with hotels and other manufacturers. “I suppose we’re going to go back to when oil was expensive. Before we were probably paying $1m a month,” the Super Value chief told this newspaper.

“We’re probably at $500,000 to $750,000 a month now. If we go back to the order of $1m, I think it has to be figured into the price of goods. It’s like freight. It costs more to do business. It further increases the cost of living. But, of course, we’re ducking all of that because we’ve already paid the deposit and ordered and so on to go solar.

“We’ll be going solar across the company. The warehouse is already solar, and the 13 stores and the head office will be going solar. We’ll get the best rates in the world. For the rest of the year we’ll probably pay BPL’s costs, but it’s all on order. I owe them a call now to see when installation will go in. It may be starting within weeks. I hope it’s quick, like three months, but it may turn out to be six months or the greater part of the year.”

Mr Roberts subsequently confirmed to Tribune Business via What’s App message that “preparation for solar has started and solar panels will be installed beginning July 2”. He added: “Once the panels are here it’s a go, go, go until they turn on the service.”

The Super Value chief said converting the supermarket chain’s warehouse to solar power had cut the facility’s energy costs by around 80 percent, but the likely savings at the stores and head office would likely be slightly different due to the operating hours and structure.

Praising BPL for the fuel hedging strategy it has employed over the past two years, Mr Roberts told this newspaper: “It’s really saved us a lot of money. We work closely with BPL, and I understand it saved us a lot because of their forward buying and contracts. They had the low-priced oil for the country, and were passing it on to the consumer. It saved us a lot compared to world markets. I guess that was a God send to the nation.”