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Belco given more time to respond to island’s energy plan

Belco is working on a proposal for the updated Integrated Resource Plan (File photograph)

The Regulatory Authority has requested that Belco submit a proposal for an updated Integrated Resource Plan that will decide the future of the island’s electricity generation.

The utility company has been given a year to submit its proposal and the RA said that the public would have the opportunity to be consulted.

A spokeswoman for the RA said: “As the Transmission, Distribution and Retail Licensee, the RA requested that Belco submit their proposal for an IRP. Note, this is the beginning of the IRP process.

“In accordance with Section 42 of the Electricity Act, 2016, the public will have opportunities to provide their feedback during the IRP process.”

The Integrated Resource Plan public consultation process

1. A proposed IRP is submitted to the Regulatory Authority by Belco, the Transmission, Distribution and Retail Licencee.

2. Once received, the RA reviews the proposal and publishes it for public feedback during the various rounds of public consultation.

3. Once the public consultation process has been completed, the RA enters an iterative process with Belco to advise them of any changes that must be made to the draft proposal.

4. After the process has been completed, the draft document is sent back to the RA from Belco for further analysis.

5. Once the RA’s board of commissioners has approved the final of the draft, it is then published as the final IRP.

Belco previously submitted a proposal as part of the current version of the IRP, favouring liquefied natural gas as a principal fuel for the new North Power Station

However, the RA opted in favour of dual-fuel engines able to burn heavy fuel oil as a primary fuel, with the ability to convert to LNG in the future, and opted for the integration of an offshore wind farm, more solar power and additional distributed generation.

Regardless of the IRP, Belco went ahead and built the North Power Station to optimise for LNG.

Belco has since had to retrofit the station to optimise for HFO, as per the IRP, which has led to polluting events including soot fallouts affecting area residents.

It said it had hoped LNG could be used as a bridge between fossil fuel and renewable generation.

Asked about future use of LNG, the RA spokeswoman told The Royal Gazette: “Belco has not formally advised the RA of any further plans to provide LNG.

“Any new energy generation must be in line with the current IRP, which currently does not permit LNG. In the upcoming IRP, all options will be considered to update the energy road map for Bermuda.”

She added: “The IRP is a living document. As such, while the procurement plan in the existing IRP is still valid, based on the new IRP, timelines for the development of any new generation technologies may alter previous timelines.

“The IRP will constantly be updated with revised goals to utilise the latest information that is available.”

She said that, as stated in the Electricity Act amendments of 2022 as part of the sandbox initiative, innovation in “promising generation technologies” can now be considered in the new IRP.

The new IRP proposal must be received from Belco by November 17, 2023.

Belco declined to comment on its proposal. A company spokesman said: “Belco won’t be commenting on the IRP until after the draft IRP has been submitted and is open for the consultation process.”

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Published November 25, 2022 at 7:49 am (Updated November 25, 2022 at 7:49 am)

Belco given more time to respond to island’s energy plan

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