Monday, April 18, 2011

$2m savings for GB Power customers


Tribune Business Reporter

Some 20,000 customers will collectively save $2 million over the next year following the installation of more efficient power generators by the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) , a company spokesperson said on Friday.

The GBPC is "very optimistic" that the newly-installed rental generators will enable the company to increase the reliability of Grand Bahama's power supply, as well as minimise price fluctuations typically felt by consumers, particularly over the summer months.

The adequacy and cost of Grand Bahama's power supply has been a major bone of contention for consumers, in particular the private sector, which has described it as a serious cost burden for business operations and profitability. The power company has 20,000 customers - around 15,000 residential and 5,000 commercial - on the island.

GBPC's corporate communications head, Philcher-Grant Farquharson, told Tribune Business that this historic unreliability and dissatisfaction factored into the company's decision to invest in the generators at this time.

"The company understands the level of reliability customers of GBPC have been experiencing is nowhere near the standard it should be at, and to stabilise the company and give customers the type of service they deserve and demand, we had to implement some short-term solutions to the power issue," said Mrs Farquharson.

GBPC has been majority-owned by Canadian power-giant, Emera, since December. The company has brought on stream a total of 54 rental units of generation, representing an additional 35 megawatts (MW) of supplemental generation, with enhancing energy efficiency the primary motive for doing so. Between eight and 10 extra workers are expected to find employment operating and maintaining the equipment.

The rental generators, which will remain in place until GBPC brings its announced new generation station on stream in the 2012 second quarter, are three times more efficient than the combustion turbines they will replace. Fuel costs tend to be more volatile with less efficient generators.

Added to the 10 MW of power brought in to supplement GPBC's generation capacity by Emera last year, the latest upgrade now provides the company with a total of 45 MW of more energy efficient generation equipment. Grand Bahama's peak power load is between 72-75 MW.

"We do not have any numbers on exactly how much supply interruptions will be reduced by, but we know these generators are more reliable than the current steam and combustion units, and more efficient given that they have better heat rate performances.

"It will bring cost stability to the customer at no additional cost, and we're very optimistic about the extent to which there will be a reduction in supply interruptions," said Mrs Grant-Farquharson.

"It's a short-term solution to improving the reliability of the company, and bringing some stabilisation and cost effectiveness until more intermediate and long-term solutions are implemented."

The spokesperson said the company will release more information regarding the new power plant in "the next several weeks".

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