by Larry Smith
According to the latest report from the International Energy Agency, which tracks these things, renewables and cleaner-burning natural gas are leading in the race to meet energy demand growth.
In other words, a big energy transformation is taking place, spurred by the Paris climate agreement. But whether the Bahamas will benefit from these advances within a reasonable timeframe is questionable.
Government officials often refer to our high vulnerability to climate impacts like rising sea levels and stronger storms. But we see little real leadership in moving towards a clean energy economy.
Environment Minister Ken Dorsett said recently he became involved in politics to facilitate change. “And over the last four-and-a-half years we have seen evidence of the foundational work for that change, (including) energy sector reform.”
In support, he pointed to a national energy policy that was developed over successive administrations. It sets a goal of 30 per cent renewable energy use by 2030.
The policy envisions the Bahamas as a “world leader in sustainable energy”. And to its credit, the government did pass a new Electricity Act, which specifically provides for renewable energy generation and grid inter-connection.
The draft law was left on the table by the previous administration and not enacted by this government until 2015. Provisions in the law for the establishment of Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) are already in effect, but the renewable energy provisions are not.
That’s because everything is on hold until the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) can approve plans and set up a licensing and regulatory system for the electricity sector.