SEC informs residents of Saba about renewable energy project

SEC informs residents of Saba  about renewable energy project

SEC management and Commissioner Rolando Wilson (second left) at the townhall meeting in The Bottom.

SABA--To keep residents informed about its renewable energy plans, also in light of its efforts to keep electricity prices affordable, Saba Electric Company (SEC) recently hosted three townhall meetings where residents received information about the phase-three solar park, wind energy and battery storage project.

  “We want to engage our community and make sure that our customers are well-informed about the benefits and effects of renewable energy. Stakeholder engagement is important to us. We also want to inform you about the trend of the electricity rates, the electricity bill and how it is determined by the regulator,” said SEC’s head of distribution David Leonce during his presentation.

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The public at the townhall meeting in The Bottom.

Currently, electricity on Saba is produced by a combination of the solar parks and diesel generators, with 36% on average being produced by solar power over a 24-hour period.

  The current electricity rate, set by regulator the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), is US $0.51 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for the period of July to December 2022, but with the subsidy provided by the public entity Saba, the tariff is $0.45 per kWh.

  The solar parks have a positive effect on reducing the electricity rates, because without the solar parks, the tariff would have been somewhere around $0.62 per kWh.

  “The tariffs would have been much higher without the subsidies and the solar parks,” explained Leonce, who noted that in 2025, once the renewable energy project is completed, SEC is projecting that the electricity tariff will be around $0.24 per kWh, based on the current price of fuel.

  “When the renewable energy project is completed, the cost and usage of fuel will go down drastically, which our customers will notice in their bills,” he said.

  The solar park phases 1 and 2 were fully subsidised, partly by the European union (EU) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK. The EU and EZK have committed to invest $17.5 million in the new phase 3 solar, wind and combined battery storage project. This project is currently in the research phase and SEC is looking into different options.

  The number one benefit of the renewable energy project will be the lowering of the energy cost by some 30-40%. Once completed, Saba will generate approximately 90% of its electricity in a sustainable manner, which would be the highest percentage in the Dutch Kingdom.

  SEC is looking at the options to install one or two wind turbines which should supplement for the lack of sun during the night for charging the batteries. Several locations for a windmill are being studied along the coastline between Fort Bay Harbour and the quarry before the Black Rocks area leading to Giles Quarter. If the plans go ahead, these will consist of two 250 kWh windmills that are limited in size.

  The Giles Quarters hill with an estimated size of 34,000 square metres is the proposed location to install the third solar park and the additional battery storage. SEC is assessing with the public entity the possibility of constructing the bypass road for the new harbour that will pass through the proposed area of the solar park. SEC hopes to acquire the land by the end of 2022 and start the tendering process by the first quarter of 2023. The final design would be completed in 2023 with the construction activities to end in 2024.

  Using less energy to save cost remains important, said David. He mentioned cost-saving measures such as installing light-emitting diode (LED) lights, turning off air conditioning and lights when leaving a room, and unplugging devices that are not in use. “This is the low-hanging fruit with which you can save considerably.”

  The consultation sessions took place on November 8, 10 and 14 in The Bottom, Windwardside and Zion’s Hill, respectively The public had ample opportunity to pose questions during the townhall meetings and people made good use of it.

The Daily Herald

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