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Belco clarifies stance on natural gas

Fuel options: the giant engines for Belco's new North Power Station will be able to burn either fuel oil or natural gas (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Belco has stressed that it is prepared to burn whichever base load fuel the imminent Integrated Resource Plan requires for the island’s electricity supply — whether or not it is natural gas.

The power utility made a statement in the wake of last week’s announcement that parent company Ascendant Group has accepted a $365 million takeover offer from Canadian firm Algonquin Power & Utility Corporation.

The IRP, the road map for Bermuda’s electricity future, is being finalised by the Regulatory Authority.

“The Bermuda Electric Light Company’s new North Power Station is being built to provide base load electricity for Bermuda and replaces generating units that have reached the end of their useful life,” Belco said today.

“The new engines being installed are dual fuel and can run on traditional fuel oil or natural gas. The decision was made to install these dual fuel engines as a forward-looking measure, in the event the Regulatory Authority, when issuing the Integrated Resource Plan, determines that natural gas should be used as a fuel for electricity generation in Bermuda. This would also have to be approved in legislation under a fuels policy.”

The statement added: “Currently Belco does not use LNG as a fuel and there is no facility on the island capable of supplying LNG. It was never an intention of Belco to build an LNG facility.

“Belco is licensed to provide our customers with stable, reliable and safe electricity and the only way to currently fulfil the terms of the company’s licence is using traditional generating units to produce electricity.

“Once the IRP is finalised by the RA, Bermuda will have a road map for our energy future. The management and staff of Belco fully support renewable energy sources and look forward to increasing their use in the future.”

The takeover deal has to be approved by the RA and Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, can also issue ministerial directions to the regulator.

In the House of Assembly last Friday, Mr Roban suggested that he should have “an opportunity to review the RA’s intended consent to the transfer of the licence to ensure that the application is in accordance with the ministerial directions”.

Belco listed Algonquin Power & Utilities’ core principles, which include:

• A commitment to building and operating their business such that the company makes a positive and durable contribution to a sustainable energy and water future.

• The company strives to deploy emerging technologies and business models in the delivery of clean, efficient and reliable energy at a fair price to facilitate the transition to low carbon emission communities.

• The company believes diversity and inclusion results in a more just society and resilient communities.

• The company seeks open dialogue and collaboration with the communities in which they operate and views good governance practices as an essential element in the pursuit of positive and balanced outcomes for our business, our workforce, our shareholders and our communities.