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Minister gives update on NSC solar panel project

The Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, Owen Darrell (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A solar energy project at the National Sports Centre is running behind schedule due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, senators were told.

Owen Darrell, the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, said: “There was a pandemic that is still, technically, going on; and I will tell you that pandemic caused a lot of things in this country to slow down; construction projects and the like.

“While the time that we would have liked to get this solar project to be up and running has passed, I can assure you that it will be up and running shortly.”

Local company Atlantic Energy Storage Solutions was named as the preferred bidder for installing solar panels at the stadium in 2018, but Government did not approve the $3.2 million contract until May 2021.

After the project was approved, Ernest Peets, the then Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, said the project would eliminate about $600,000 spent annually on electricity by the NSC.

According to Mr Darrell, all the required solar panels have been installed in a carport over a parking area at the stadium. A solar carport generates energy while protecting vehicles from bad weather.

Mr Darrell said: “It is a unique and space-saving way to put up solar panels.

“It is anticipated that a majority, if not all, of the power going to the National Sports Centre will be generated from those solar panels once it is all set up and connected and all necessary provisions have been put in place.

“The next phase is trenching, to connect the cables to the electrical room in the grandstand and connect the south field with some more trenches.”

The diving boards at the centre’s pool, which are about ten years old, will be replaced this year, Mr Darrell said.

“According to industry standards, the boards should be replaced every seven to ten years. Given those standards, we are right on the back end of the life of those boards.”

Plans are also in place to possibly add a basketball court, new changing rooms, offices and concessions at the facility, although Mr Darrell said the plans were far down the line.

Speaking during a Budget debate last week, the minister said: “Individuals are keen to get that moving, but what has not been figured out is how do we pay for that.

“What we will not do in this government, in being fiscally responsible, is bite off more than we can chew in terms of building more when we, right now, are unable to effectively cover.”

Mr Darrell also welcomed the two new members of the National Sports Centre’s Board of Trustees – businessman Grant Hopkins and retired teacher Jon Beard.

He said: “Mr Hopkins will come on to the board at the National Sports Centre and assist with how to increase revenues and how we deal with a lot of the business-end stuff.

“Anyone who has been connected with sports in Bermuda within the last 30 years knows that Mr Beard has a passion for sports in this country; he has previously served on the board before my time.”

Mr Hopkins and Mr Beard join chairman Taijuan Talbot, Wayne Dill, Leon Bascome, Mark Steede and Vanessa Turner on the board.

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Published March 31, 2023 at 7:29 am (Updated March 31, 2023 at 7:29 am)

Minister gives update on NSC solar panel project

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