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New law encouraging electricity innovation backed by senators

An illustration of underwater operations by green energy company Seabased (photograph supplied)

It is now less risky to let experimental energy creators operate in Bermuda, a minister has said.

Lindsay Simmons, the Junior Minister of Home Affairs, made the comments as the Senate passed legislation this morning allowing operators to develop new technologies around the island.

Ms Simmons said such moves were ruled out previously owing to the “magnitude” of risk allowing innovators to connect to the grid could pose to residents and businesses.

Now, the Electricity Amendment Act creates a regulatory sandbox — a light-touch rules framework designed to encourage innovation.

Ms Simmons said the Regulatory Authority had gained sufficient experience to oversee developments in the energy sector, which the Government said was aimed at cutting bills for consumers.

She told senators: “The Electricity Act 2016 was written specifically to exclude innovators at that time due to the potential magnitude of risk to our grid, and, consequentially, Bermuda’s residents and businesses.

“This was with good reason as independent regulators could not yet have had the capacity to elevate any potential newcomers, and avoiding risk altogether was a prudent action.

“The Regulatory Authority has now been operating for almost five years in the electricity sector, and more than nine years independently regulating the electronic communication sector.

“It is a natural progression therefore to entrust the regulation of the evolution of the electricity sector to the RA.”

The minister said any innovative developer would be subject to scrutiny before being allowed to connect to the national grid.

Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, has said previously that the development of wave power had the potential to meet all the island’s electricity needs and lead to cheaper bills for consumers.

Mr Roban announced an agreement last November with international energy firm Seabased, which was considering setting up a wave energy farm off the island

Meanwhile, the Senate passed the Land Valuation and Tax Amendment Act which the Government said was aimed at helping care homes.

Arianna Hodgson, junior finance minister, told the upper house that the legislation would provide a combined $65,947 in relief to 12 facilities.

Senators also backed a 99-year lease for a piece of land in Pembroke to support a nearby sports club.

The move sees Gorham’s Ltd receiving a lease for a 0.61-acre stretch of land next to the St John’s Road business to improve access for customers.

In return, the company has pledged to invest more than $550,000 in improvements to St John’s Field and the Western Stars Sports Club.

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Published June 27, 2022 at 7:50 am (Updated June 27, 2022 at 7:50 am)

New law encouraging electricity innovation backed by senators

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