Electric power is now a basic necessity for all modern and developed societies but what is amazing is that so few people actually take an interest in the subject. We assume that electricity will always be there, almost like the air we breathe - until we have an event like a hurricane or an island wide blackout
 

BELCO is an engineering company - we design, construct, commission, operate and maintain an electric power generation, transmission and distribution system.  BELCO has always accepted the role and the responsibility to provide a secure and reliable power supply system for Bermuda. We also expect to be held accountable if and when power cannot be supplied, for whatever reason.

BELCO's current planning scenarios are still projecting that new plant will be required by 2011 butin order to have this plant completed by 2011 BELCO must enter into a contract with a supplier in the first six months of 2008.  A secure supply of electricity is the starting point but customers are also looking for the system to be reliable.  BELCO's purchase strategy focuses on commercially available and proven technologies and we do very little experimenting with new technology. BELCO takes a conservative approach when we acquire new plant. BELCO chooses not to experiment with cutting edge equipment that does not have proven service capabilities. We have no fallback position if this equipment fails to perform other than power interruption - which is not really a planned choice.  Fortunately every two to three years we have added new generation to our system in order to keep pace with growth or to retire older less efficient plant. Although we have currently a fairly robust generating plant our preferred operating margins and hence reliability will be reduced over the next three years unless we install new plant.  The challenge of building an electric power system that is sustainable is as important as it is to have a system that is both secure and reliable.

Our size introduces a certain level of complexity for Bermuda that at times is not considered by most Bermudians. Our options for sustainable solutions are not as extensive as the mainland. Space or the lack of space is the most serious issue that will challenge BELCO's ability to develop a sustainable system.  We are also finding that many of our customers no longer want BELCO infrastructure on their property and this too is becoming more and more problematic as we attempt to rebuild and replace some of our overhead system network. Unfortunately there is an increasing lack of interest in one's neighbours and the occasions are increasing where we are being asked to remove our services with expressed disregard on how this will affect BELCO's ability to service their neighbours. This changing attitude does not bode well for a sustainable supply going forward.

BELCO accepts that renewables must be a part of our generation mix going forward. We should however plan to use renewable technologies that are proven and reliable.   We have entered into an arrangement to purchase power from an off shore underwater generating plant.  We were excited then and still are of the possibilities that can be derived from a renewable source capable of supplying a constant power supply to the island. Our objective must be to reduce our dependency on fuel oil going forward.  BELCO has studied wind and has concluded that there is indeed a wind resource. Our main issue with wind is that it is an intermittent power supply.

            At a recent conference of utility executives a presenter described the future as one where we are likely to experience the perfect storm.  He was not talking about the next hurricane, he was referring to a convergence of aging infrastructure, an aging workforce and environmental issues.  As we consider security, reliability and sustainability we recognize that embedded in all of the discussion are elements that when brought together may create the perfect storm.