Bermuda Electric Light Company Limited (‘BELCO’ or the ‘Company’) is celebrating Black History Month by recognising the life and legacy of Nolan Leroy Smith, a Bermudian who helped build the Company into the world-class utility it is today.
Nolan began his career at BELCO in 1966 and spent 30 years in the electrical engineering section, specialising in Transmission & Distribution (T&D) system analysis and Metering and Protection. He was also highly regarded for his proficiency in the production of VBA code to extend the use of excel for power systems or other fields and was widely regarded as an electrical systems genius and excel expert.
Between 1980 and 1983 Nolan attended Thames Polytechnic in the UK and attained an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree. Nolan was passionate about research and strategic planning as well as teaching and public speaking. After leaving BELCO he started Nolan Inc. – an Electric Power utility consultancy, specialising in T&D system analysis, Metering and Protection.
Before he retired from BELCO in 2010 after 43 years with the Company, Nolan was a member of the team that started planning work on the Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) that was named in his honour and commissioned in March, 2019. However, he sadly passed away in 2015 before the system was built and commissioned, but we believe that Nolan would have been excited, proud and thrilled to see the project come to fruition.
The BESS was built to provide reserve capacity for BELCO’s plant and to also make Bermuda’s entire electrical network more robust and reliable. Reserve capacity is the standby power that is always needed in case of a system fault that causes an engine that is providing power to the grid to come offline. Reserve capacity has traditionally been provided by running engines that are not adding power to the grid, but can do so at a moment’s notice. The BESS reduces BELCO’s carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 4,500 tonnes per year.
The BESS system was the first of its kind in the Caribbean region and in October, 2019 won the Best Energy Storage Project award at the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum, which is the largest annual gathering of the Caribbean clean energy market.
BELCO President Wayne Caines said: “In recognition of Black History Month, BELCO honours the professionalism, expertise, passion and legacy of Nolan L. Smith who was dedicated to improving BELCO and the lives of all Bermudians. Nolan was a pioneer in many aspects of the operations and systems we use today at BELCO and he set the groundwork in our drive to become a renewable energy company. It is fitting, therefore, that our BESS, which demonstrates our commitment to sustainability, is named in his honour.”