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Sands: Unreliable Power is Hurting Tourism in the Family Islands

President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association Robert “Sandy” Sands told members of the media yesterday that unreliable power generation, and in many instances a lack of standby power generation, is hurting the tourism product in the Family Islands.

Sands said the issue is not the same for many large hotel properties on New Providence, which often have enough standby power to carry on their operations if Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) fails, or is conducting load shedding in order to account for a shortfall in supply.

According to Sands, many small family island hotels cannot supply 100 percent of their power in the event of a BPL failure, and many cannot supply any at all.

“Consistent, reliable electricity is also a critical part of tourism success, particularly in our Family Islands,” said Sands.

“In New Providence the issue is slightly different, because I think most of the larger hotels have the ability to have standby generation for an extended period of time, and also for 100 percent of its property.”

He explained that many hotels in the Family Islands have begun to gradually introduce solar and other forms of alternative energy into their facilities, in order to protect themselves from the shortfalls of BPL.

A fire recently devastated North Andros’ power plant, leaving residents and businesses in the dark, only days ahead of its biggest festival that attracts visitors.

Last week BPL said it had restored power to 90 percent of residents.

Minister of Works and Utilities Alfred Sears said at the beginning of the month that the government is minded to introduce solar energy to the island.

“From the government’s perspective, we see this also as an opportunity to accelerate our commitment in the renewable energy space,” he said.

“That is to put in place a solar facility that can give the community much more resilience, reduce over time the cost of electricity, and be consistent and lessen the carbon footprint.”

By Chester Robards, Tribune Business

July 21, 2023