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Roban vows to focus on cutting energy costs

Solar panels (File photograph)

Household investments in simple power-saving measures will help the island to grapple with overall electricity costs, according to home affairs minister Walter Roban.

Mr Roban retained control of the Department of Energy along with telecommunications broadcasting from his previous ministerial portfolio, after David Burt shifted Cabinet positions on November 1.

After The Royal Gazette reported a call from the renewable energy firm BE Solar for ambitious investments in renewable energy projects such as an offshore wind farm, Mr Roban said the Government’s focus, “no matter what projects are out there, is on taking down the cost”.

He added: “It’s fine to talk about wind farms and solar, but what we have to look at is how this is going to reduce cost.”

Capital expenses for a significant wind-farming project were estimated at $300 million, but Mr Roban said: “If that doesn’t bring affordability, that’s not a good investment.”

As cited last week in the Throne Speech, the minister noted that “our spending is one of the highest kilowatt hours in this hemisphere, perhaps the globe”.

“We have to bring down the cost of electricity as a top priority. Whatever investments go forward, we will focus on efficiency and conservation.”

Mr Roban said that investing in photovoltaic power or solar water heating remained expensive at the household level.

“Timers on hot-water heaters, or switching from incandescent light bulbs to LED, are investments that can assist the average person with affordable electricity and getting a better handle on their bills.

“There are different phases to this — there are big sexy projects such as wind farms and little incremental steps individuals can take. We can’t just work on the solar project at the Finger [at LF Wade Internatioonal Airport in St David’s].”

The Government offered increased rebates last month to households in solar electricity, and customs duty breaks have been in place since the previous One Bermuda Alliance administration on renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Mr Roban pointed out a scheme last month by Clarien Bank in tandem with Greenrock, in which the bank offered the public a chance to switch incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LED lighting.

“We encourage all local institutions to do the same thing and the public to get involved,” Mr Roban said — adding that the Department of Energy was marking Energy Month for November by sharing power-saving tips on its Facebook page.