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Solar power plant deal signed

In agreement: Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport, and Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, Minister of Public Works, sign an agreement with Doug Wagner, president of Saturn Power (Photograph by Jonathan Bell)

A massive solar power plant is to be built on a vacant runway at the airport.

Saturn Solar Bermuda 1, a part of Canadian-based Saturn Power, will develop the six-megawatt power plant on “the finger”, a runway and munitions pier when the airport was run by the US Navy as a Naval Air Station.

The generating plant will be the first large-scale renewable energy resource on the island.

Walter Roban, the Minister of Transport and Regulatory Affairs, said: “Out of nine candidates, six being Bermudian, Saturn Power came in as the lowest bidder at 10.3 cents per kilowatt hour.”

He added: “The replacement of fuel costs with solar power will also keep an estimated $20 million or more in our local economy over the course of this project’s lifetime.”

Mr Roban said: “Also, it will stabilise a small part of every ratepayers’ electricity bill by replacing fuel costs with solar energy, allowing part of our electricity bills to remain stable for the next 20 years.”

The runway has been earmarked for development since 2012.

Mr Roban said the power plant will be a separate project to the airport redevelopment and will not offset the airport’s energy use.

He added the deal includes an agreement that all bidders “were required to have Bermudian content in regards to labour during construction and operations, and maintenance personnel post-construction”.

Mr Roban said the agreement, signed yesterday with Doug Warner, president of Saturn Power, was preliminary.

Mr Roban added that the start of construction would be decided when the peninsula at LF Wade International Airport was cleared of vegetation.

He added an “intense, transparent and inclusive” selection process for the development started in 2016

Mr Roban said the deal will allow for “sustainable and sensible” competition in the electricity sector.

The Bermuda Government will be paid rent for the site, charged at $5,000 per acre.

Mr Roban said The power generated will supplement Belco’s output but rates would be a matter for the Regulatory Authority.

Mr Wagner said that Saturn had watched renewable energy evolve from alternative power to become “mainstream worldwide”.

Mr Wagner said the island could serve as “an example to the Caribbean”.

He added: “Let the sun shine.”

UPDATE: This article was amended to report that Saturn Power’s bid was 10.3 cents per kilowatt hour. It had initially stated the bid was 103 cents per kilowatt hour.