Naval equipment found at the finger
Discarded equipment from the airport’s days as a US Naval Air Station has been discovered by workers preparing to set up a sun-powered energy plant.
Home affairs minister Walter Roban said the disused runway which juts into Castle Harbour, known as “the finger”, contained disused fuel tanks and other “strange equipment” which needed careful handling.
The Government has said it wanted to have the solar plant online “well before the end of the upcoming fiscal year”.
Mr Roban told the House of Assembly on Friday that future commercial projects would have “Bermudians first as principal investors”.
He added: “Even if they are partnered with overseas persons, they should be first in line.”
A Canadian-based firm, Saturn Power, is spearheading the runway project, which will be Bermuda’s first renewable energy plant.
The minister, who was debating the Department of Energy’s budget for 2019-20, said the department would move from annual energy summits to twice a year and more effort would be put into public information.
Mr Roban told the House that a satellite, run as a joint venture between the companies SES and EchoStar, operated in the island’s space slot.
But he said: “At the moment, Bermuda is not earning any revenue from that.”
Mr Roban explained that the US Federal Communications Commission prohibited non-American satellites from transmitting into North America.
But he said the space industry had changed and there was now potential for the island to use its satellite slot to provide marine services.
Mr Roban added that a rebate to encourage solar thermal and solar photovoltaic power for lower value homes, launched in October 2018, had seen an extra 22 kilowatts installed to date, with another 90 kilowatts due to come on stream.
He said the Department of Energy had also taken over responsibility for telecommunications, with its expenditure of $280,000 reflecting an additional $97,000 over last year’s figure to cover the addition of a new member of staff.
The department’s operating budget is unchanged, but revenue is to rise with new acquisitions such as the spectrum band fees of $2.48 million.
Mr Roban said the Government had decided to take on an in-house energy manager rather than using an overseas consultant.
He added putting a manager in place earlier could have resulted in “considerable savings”.
The minister told MPs he had heard from Belco customers who were surprised to find a fuel surcharge on their power bill that was bigger than their expenditure on electricity.
Mr Roban said: “That’s a real concern, and we are discussing that with the Regulatory Authority.”
He also encouraged people to take advantage of the department’s programme of helping exchange old incandescent light bulbs with energy saving LEDs.
Mr Roban said LEDs were more expensive but that “you can see their impact within a couple of billing cycles”.