Log In

Reset Password

Belco in climbdown with regulator over ‘misleading claims’ row

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Clarification: Belco issued a statement about its original proposal for the utility company’s North Power Station (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The island’s electricity supplier was forced into a climbdown in its war of words with the Regulatory Authority in the face of legal action over “misleading claims”.

A statement from Belco was issued “at the request of” the regulator to clarify public statements made by the company about the cause of soot emissions in the surrounding area.

Wayne Caines, the company president, said earlier that the North Power Station was developed to operate on natural gas as the primary fuel source.

He added that using heavy fuel oil instead led to unforeseen challenges at the plant, such as soot fallout and odours reported by nearby residents.

But the company said yesterday: “At the request of the Regulatory Authority, Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited today clarified statements concerning the approval process for the North Power Station.

“Belco submitted a proposal to the Regulatory Authority in 2017 for the construction of the NPS.

“In the proposal, Belco said: ‘The NPS will consist of dual-fuel engines that will burn a combination of light fuel oil and heavy fuel oil from the time of first commissioning, as is the case with newer existing engines.

“The dual-fuel component will enable cost-effective conversion to natural gas should such become available in Bermuda in the future.’

“The RA reviewed and approved Belco’s proposal in its entirety for the approximate $118 million project to build the NPS and the battery system and no modifications were made to Belco’s proposal.”

The statement added: “Belco’s first priority continues to be the safe, reliable supply of electricity to its customers.”

Earlier this month, the RA said that Belco claimed in 2017 that a new station was necessary, and its proposal included a design for a dual-fuel power plant, capable of using oil or liquefied natural gas.

The authority said: “Belco suggested that oil would be deployed in the first instance and if at some point in the future the country decided to go towards LNG, the plant could then be readily updated to switch to the LNG.”

It added that "the RA expected that Belco would deliver what it promised“.

The authority said: “Yet, after receiving permission from the RA, Belco built the North Power Station to optimise LNG first.

“It made the decision based on its assumption that the public and the RA would readily accept liquefied natural gas for energy generation at that time.

“However, when the RA conducted several public consultations on the Integrated Resource Plan proposal, which Belco created, and several alternative generation proposals from the public, there was little support for LNG.”

It added: “The RA advises that if the issue is that the Belco plant was configured for natural gas and now has been retrofitted for liquid fuels, which is still problematic, Belco should address technical issues and mechanical issues with the vendor and hold them accountable to make the necessary repairs as a matter of urgency.

“Finally, the RA cautions Belco about making any further misleading statements to the public regarding the North Power Station."

Wayne Caines, the Belco president (File photograph)

Mr Caines said then that the company “never had any intention to mislead the public and do not believe we did”.

He explained later: “Since the NPS was originally intended to be a bridge between where we have been (fossil fuels) and where we are planning to go (renewable energy), it was developed to operate on natural gas as the primary fuel source.

“While natural gas is still a fossil fuel, it is a much cleaner burning fossil fuel that has been used as a bridge mechanism globally.

“Evidence supports that it would have eradicated any fallout issues and resulted in less carbon emissions.”

He added: “While heavy fuel oil was intended to be a back-up fuel, it has been used as the primary fuel source since the commissioning as the Regulatory Authority’s 2019 Integrated Resource Plan did not prefer natural gas as a fuel option.”

Mr Caines said then: “This change in primary fuel source led to unforeseen challenges that began in June 2020 with our area residents reporting their experiences with daily soot fallout issues and daily fuel odours that were becoming untenable.

“Through consulting with our neighbours, the manufacturer, and methodically assessing our equipment and operations, we were able to ascertain that the fallout issues were a direct result of the combustion pressure of the engines being optimised for natural gas as the primary fuel.

“We immediately began work on developing and implementing solutions to increase the combustion efficiency through an increase in combustion operating pressures.”

But the RA said last week that Belco had made no attempt to “correct the public record”.

The authority added: “As a result, the RA is now considering all legal and regulatory options relating to Belco’s statements, including, but not limited to, enforcement action, civil proceedings and publishing relevant materials to support its position.”

An RA spokeswoman said last night: “The RA has reviewed Belco’s recent statement concerning the North Power Station approval and is satisfied that they have corrected the public record. As a result, the RA considers the matter closed.”

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published August 25, 2022 at 7:47 am (Updated August 25, 2022 at 7:47 am)

Belco in climbdown with regulator over ‘misleading claims’ row

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon