Statement
21 December 2015 - 1:15pm

STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL
AT THE FIFTH SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
MONDAY 21ST DECEMBER 2015

Madam Speaker, allow me to update this Honourable House on our Government's continuing efforts to provide a reliable supply of electricity to residents and businesses of the Virgin Islands.

The Government's vision is to have at least 33% of the Territory's energy produced by alternative sources by the year 2023 and efforts continue towards achieving that goal.

Madam Speaker, in the past 2-3 years, demand for electricity has gotten very close to available capacity.

We have seen an increase of approximately 9MW added to our total system demand in 2015, including Peebles Hospital; Biwater’s Water Production Plant and two new Sewerage Treatment Plants; Tortola Pier Park; Mooney Bay Development and Clarence Thomas Ltd. (CTL)’s new superstore.

The current base load capacity is 39 megawatts and current peak demand is up to 33.7 megawatts.

As it stands, the existing Power Plant does not have the capacity to supply enough power, when generators breakdown or go offline for repairs.

In other words, the BVIEC continues to operate under a slim reserve margin and is facing the challenge of maintaining aging equipment, while trying to accommodate the increasing demand for electricity in the Territory.

This situation worsened in July this year, when there was a crankshaft failure on Unit #7.

A new crankshaft has since been installed, the engine is being assembled and will be commissioned late next month - January 2016.

Madam Speaker, 3.3 MW of temporary generating capacity was installed at Long Bush in January 2015.

It was then increased to 4.4 MW in October, which has given us a slight increase in reserve.

Through it all, Madam Speaker, there has had to be some load shedding, due to the shortage of generating capacity.

Again, we apologize to our consumers for the inconvenience caused by the power outages and continue to ask for your patience.

Madam Speaker, I am however pleased to report to this Honourable House today, that significant efforts are underway to address these issues.

In February of this year, we broke ground for the BVIEC's Phase V Power Development Project, which involves the construction of an expansion to the Power Plant at Pockwood Pond and the manufacture and installation of two new engines.

The procurement of a third engine under Phase V A is in an advanced stage, considering the increased demand mentioned above.

To provide an update on the works done so far, Madam Speaker, I can report that, for:

Package A – Generation Contract

1.         Excavation work started in October and is 70% completed and scheduled for completion by the first week of January 2016;

2.         Once the excavation is completed, then the civil works for the Power Station will commence;

3.         Chairman Mr. Ron Potter and General Manager Leroy Abraham left for Italy on December 12th, to witness the Factory Acceptance Test on the engines, which are scheduled to be shipped in April.

4.         Project completion date is still targeted for December 2016 for the new generation units.

Package B – Transmission and Distribution Contract

1.         The contractor has completed roughly half a mile of excavation, installation and backfill of the two transmission cables, one live and one spare, from the Pockwood Pond Power Plant, along the coast to the Ebenezer Thomas Primary School in Sea Cow's Bay, over the hill, down via The Manse Road/Paul P. Wattley Road and on to the Long Bush Power Sub-station;

2.         These cables, 4 inches in diameter and to be laid 3 feet deep, will provide onward power to East End and Virgin Gorda;

3.         This work is being done by K Line out of Canada and is expected to be completed by April 2016;

4.         The contractor is currently installing the final layer of concrete on the roads, driveways and ditches from the first section of installation, which will be completed before they break for the holidays; and

5.         Excavation works will resume on January 4th between Pockwood Pond Bridge and Hannah’s Bridge. That is still on track to be completed by the 2nd quarter of 2016.

Separately, Madam Speaker, the Corporation has to expand the Long Bush Substation, to incorporate the additional switchgear and cables, as a part of the Phase V Development Programme.

When the entire project is completed, the BVIEC will be able to provide an extra 24.3 megawatts of power, bringing the total base load capacity to approximately 63 megawatts.

Within all this, there is consideration to retire some of the very old engines with low capacity output.

In addition and in the meantime, Madam Speaker, Government is reviewing the results of the Request For Proposals or RFPs and the proposal to change out streetlights Territory-wide, to more energy-efficient LED street lighting.

We are expecting to see some operational savings with the conversion.

In addition, we have already ordered 50 solar street lights on the four main islands and these are due to arrive in the Territory by mid-March and should be installed by end of May 2016.

Twenty of these lights will be installed on Tortola, mainly on the western end of the Sir Francis Drake Highway, between Pockwood Pond and West End, covering the Sir Francis Drake Highway.

The others will be installed on Virgin Gorda from Handsome Bay to North Sound and on Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.

Madam Speaker, legislation to incorporate Renewable Energy in the BVI Electricity Corporation 2014 Amendment Act, is now in force.

We are continuing our work with the Attorney General’s Chambers to complete the Regulations, so that installations can be brought online.

We are also developing a comprehensive Energy Policy for the Territory, to include renewable energy; energy conservation; future use of cleaner fuels to generate electricity, such as propane or natural gas; and a futuristic look at the transportation sector.

This policy will be completed at the end of April.

This begins with a workshop on January 12th with various stakeholders, to get their input on the constituent parts of the policy, such as how we implement solar energy generation; do we use energy from waste; will it be gasification or do we modify the existing incinerator; do we use energy from waves or energy from wind; and also the location of the wind turbines and how many.

Madam Speaker, the delivery of renewable energy, as stated in this Government’s Manifesto, is urgent, as we play our part in reducing our carbon footprint, as part of global climate change initiative.

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