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News Report: Chamber exec urges best deal possible on electricity supply arrangement

January 19, 2021written by Natario McKenzie

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite protracted negotiations with Shell North America, a Chamber of Commerce executive has urged the government not to sign off on any agreement until it secures the best deal possible for the Bahamian people, while urging it not to put “all [its] eggs in one basket”.

Debbie Deal, chair of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) Energy and Environment Division, told Eyewitness News: “I understand that the time has [run] out. I’m pleased that BPL (Bahamas Power and Light) and the government [are] taking the action that they have.

“We shouldn’t sign off on anything until we get the deal that we want. We need to stop agreeing to things that only put us in a predicament later on.”

Shell North America’s two-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) with BPL has expired, ending the energy giant’s exclusivity on constructing and supplying fuel to New Providence’s proposed new power plant at Clifton Pier.

In November 2018, the government signed an MoU with Shell North America (Shell NA) for the development of a gas-to-power project. The project would include the development of a gas-fire 220-plus megawatt power plant; marine infrastructure to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG); a gas pipeline to bring gas to shore; and an onshore LNG re-gasification terminal.

BPL had undertaken to cover the costs to construct the entire 220-plus megawatt power plant at the Clifton Pier site and transfer the assets to Shell NA for its gas-to-power facility. Newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister Desmond Bannister recently indicated that BPL is free to negotiate with the generation provider of its choice, although the government wants to give Shell every opportunity to be the company that secures the agreement. Under the agreement, Shell would sell electricity to BPL via a 20 to 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Deal said: “Things can change very quickly and I’m not sure I would want to deal for 20 to 25 years. I would prefer that one company not be holding so many cards. “We don’t know what could happen; we shouldn’t put all of our eggs in one basket. It’s not a good idea. Hurricane Dorian and the pandemic have certainly shown us that. I encourage the government and BPL to seek out the best deal possible.”

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