Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban delivered the Department of Energy’s Budget Brief earlier this week for the department with an estimated total expenditure for the new fiscal year of $880,000, which “represents no difference from last year’s figures”.

The Budget for Head 89 can be found on Pages B-328 through B-330, C-8, and C-16 of the Approved Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

The Minister noted that staffing levels have “remained constant throughout the year, and work has continued with various ongoing projects.

The department’s advertising budget was increased to $64,000, representing an increase from last year’s budget of $14,000 or 28 percent.

Highlights of The Minister’s Brief

EXPENDITURE OVERVIEW: There has been some movement of funds in various categories delineated below.

SUBJECTIVE ANALYSIS: The total in this area has decreased slightly from last year’s overall allocation for these areas, by fifteen thousand dollars or 4%. Within that allocation category there have been some changes, as there will be more reliance on overseas consultants as the Department works toward developing the Space and Satellite industry for Bermuda.
REVENUE: These figures represent the Government Authorization Fees in the electronic communications and electricity sectors.
Telecommunications is expected to take in approximately fifteen million, two hundred and twenty four thousand dollars ($15,224,000) by the end of the fiscal year, and electricity sector will earn approximately two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) in revenue. Spectrum Band Fees are anticipated to earn approximately two million, five hundred thousand dollars ($2,500,000), about the same as last year.
In total, with various commercial fees and mass media fees, the Department’s revenue is projected to be about eighteen million and seventy six Thousand Dollars ($18,076,000), which is a slight increase of One Hundred Ninety One Thousand Dollars ($191,000) or 1% over last years’ estimates, due mainly to slight adjustments to some of the radio licensing fees.
CAPITAL EXPENDITURES: The first line item shows a figure of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars, ($250,000).
This budget has been used in the past largely in consulting fees to guide us in the commercialization of Bermuda’s satellite slots, which is part of the broader project of building Bermuda’s space and satellite industry. In the coming year, this budget will be used mainly for consulting fees as policies are developed, and where appropriate, legislation will be developed around the
commercialization of our satellite assets. This is a sixty-seven percent increase (67%) over last year’s budget.
The second line item, Business Unit 75344 shows no funds being allocated for this work, namely the Solar Photovoltaic Facility at the LF Wade International Airport, as that project is approaching completion and is scheduled to be operational within the next few weeks. There is no work anticipated for the coming year on this project.
The Department of Energy’s Capital Acquisition’s budget shows the single line item of the Energy Rebate – a figure of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000), which is a sixty percent (60%) reduction over last year’s figures. This is in part due to the improved feed-in tariff that should encourage more voluntary uptake of renewable energy, and the continued decreased costs of solar technologies worldwide.
MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS: This past year, the Department has continued with the Solar Rebate programme, striving to benefit those in smaller residences and encouraging ordinary homeowners to adopt solar photovoltaic panels to take some demand off the grid. Such adoption clearly and obviously benefits the homeowners, by offering them a price for the electricity flowing to the grid.
What is less obvious but no less important is that for every kilowatt deployed, there is less Bermudian capital spent on foreign fuel. While solar PV in and of itself with no storage serves only to displace fuel use, that alone is a meaningful offset, and serves to help stabilize at least a part of every rate payer’s fuel surcharge.
Thus far, the Rebate Initiative has deployed about a quarter of a megawatt of solar PV over fifty-six homes with ninety applicants to date. The total amount spent on the rebates so far is two hundred and eleven thousand, six hundred and ninety nine dollars ($211,699.00) with a further seventy-six thousand dollars ($76,000) possible depending on whether the projects applied for are completed in this fiscal year.
Another initiative aimed at energy efficiency this past year is the LED exchange initiative, launched in May2019. The Department worked with the retailers themselves to ensure a smooth and workable solution, in which customers exchanged an old incandescent bulb for a new, efficient, 60-Watt equivalent LED.
In all, the Department paid for a total of ten thousand, seven hundred and ninety four (10,794) LED bulbs for a total of sixty three thousand, two hundred and fifty four dollars ($63,254)…We allowed customers to exchange up to ten bulbs at a time. If the lifespan of the LEDs are about twenty years, and assuming they are used six hours per day every day, then the savings from this one initiative over the lifespan of those bulbs is more than four million dollars.
That capital will circulate in the local economy rather than being sent offshore to buy foreign fuel. Each bulb will save over three dollars each month with the use described, and for every month thereafter in its lifespan, at present rates.
Apart from the monetary savings, over twelve thousand metric tons of carbon dioxide will have been prevented from being released into the atmosphere. This is good news for our wallets and our environment,and shows how small measures, together, add up to result in sizeable outcomes.
In August 2019, the Department hosted two weeks of Space Camps for Bermuda Public School studentsfor a total cost of nineteen thousand, seven hundred and thirty three dollars ($19,733)….There were a total of thirty-five (35) students from various Middle Schools enrolled, with students from each Middle School.
Through connections made through the Space and Satellite Advisory Panel, a team from the NASA Wallops Space Center conducted the first week, and the second week was led by a team from the Challenger Learning Centre of Alaska…Students learned about Bermuda’s unique importance to space missions both in the past and in future, that without the earth stations in St. David’s, the International Space Station would not be possible.
The response from the students…was overwhelmingly positive, and the Department looks forward to hosting Space Camp once again.
The Department has also continued to build on the relationships established in the past, particularly as it continues its work with the Rocky Mountain Institute, or RMI. RMI, an independent nonprofit organization renowned for its work as a leading think tank for renewable energy and climate change solutions, has been working with the Department of Energy and the Department of Public Transportation over the past year to help develop solutions to address our energy issues.
Over the course of the year to establish a process by which it might evaluate prospective sites for solar development. Among the criteria was the need to utilize brown-field sites and rooftops, leaving our green and open spaces to their primary purpose, of providing important natural buffers between developed areas, allowing habitat and scenic vistas to be preserved. Prospective sites were those Government controlled sites that offered sufficient space for efficient and effective deployment of solar PV, and about two hundred and nineteen (219) sites were identified as being optimal for development, with additional sites in less-optimal but still having some development potential.
Those optimal sites include rooftops, land parcels, car parks, and water catchments throughout the island. There are a total of over two hundred and forty four thousand (244,000) square meters of rooftop spaces and eight hundred and fifty seven thousand (857,000) square meters of land parcels that may be considered for solar development, and the exact numbers will vary as the developments are engineered and procured. The next steps will be to move toward developing those sites and de-risking them, in order to ensure a fair and just procurement process, in which Bermudians will participate.
In January, the Department hosted the Space Sustainability Workshop, in partnership with the Secure World Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to working with governments among others to develop and promote the secure, sustainable and peaceful uses of outer space.
The workshop was attended by members of the insurance industry, representatives from BIOS, internal stakeholders including staff members of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Regulatory Authority.
As Bermuda develops its space and satellite sector, sustainability is critical in order to ensure that ours is a jurisdiction of best practice and a centre of excellence.
Holding ourselves to a high standard in the satellite industry will ensure that our reputation is upheld and enhanced, just as it is in the shipping and aircraft registries.
Last but not least, the Department, in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Works, have worked diligently throughout the year with the developers of ‘The Finger’, and the project isdrawing to a close.
This project will deliver six megawatts of solar energy to the grid during peak times of production, which will obviate the need for at least some of the diesel powered peaking engines at the utility during those times of production. This represents a significant step forward in creating a more sustainable energy future, and will serve as a benchmark for all projects of this nature as we look toward the fulfillment of the Integrated Resource Plan.
The Department will offer the Space Camps again, as noted above.
Continuing the Space Camp initiative will ensure that Bermudian students will learn the critical role of Bermuda in the space industry, and learn to solve real-world problems using methodology and technology developed for space.
While it is not our goal to develop astronauts necessarily, we hope to promote critical thinking and scientific process, igniting fires in young minds around the STEAM curriculum.
While the rebate initiative has provided much benefit to the community as noted above, we need to ensure that benefits are directed where they will have the greatest impact. In the coming year, we seek to re-design this initiative to be even more targeted at those who would not otherwise be considering solar technologies for their homes, rather than serve only as incentive to tip the scales for those who were contemplating solar PV anyway.
The Department is also building on its local relationships, and is working with the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) on hosting the Energy Summit.
This year’s Summit, scheduled for November, seeks to highlight the business opportunities around the energy sector, and will be held over two days, with international and local participants.
The Department will also review and update the 2011 Energy White Paper. Since that time, technology has advanced, pricing on renewable energy has decreased, climate change events have amplified, and these all bear upon the relevance of that initial policy statement. This year, the Department will strive to harmonize the White Paper with the recently-published Integrated Resource Plan, ensuring that policy and practice are well aligned.
In closing, I would like to thank the small and dedicated team for all their hard work, including: Mrs Jeane Nikolai, Mr Aran McKittrick, and Ms Patricia Deshields in the Department of Energy, in addition to Ms Vanese Gordon who was seconded to us from the Ministry of Public Works.
We look forward to the challenges of the coming year, of becoming a more forward-facing Department, of attracting business in
the sectors of Energy, Telecommunications, Space and Satellite, creating opportunities for Bermudians, and lowering the costs of utilities by empowering consumers and communities.
With this overview of the Department and its activities, I move that the budget for Head 89 be approved.