Roatan's Power Grid
Roatan's energy grid is by all accounts robust. The main issues are that the current energy grid lack redundancies. So even though the main grid goes down less than other power grids, when it does go down, everyone is affected. Power outages are usually avoided when there exist redundant systems. But when there is only one system in place, however robust it might be, if it goes down, residents are sure to experience a blackout.
Many homes have started to adopt solar panels to power their homes. These, of course, have their set of limitations, but they go a long way in reducing the dependency of the local power grid. Local energy setups, which run on solar panels or small wind turbines are becoming more and more popular. But these systems usually only power a few outlets and small appliances. They usually don't power A/C's, not even window units.
Electrical & Water Supplies
ELECTRICAL & WATER SUPPLY
Regarding drinking water and electricity, the three islands of Roatan, Guanaja, and Utila, have both services there are several options for both public and private alternatives throughout several service areas. Electricity supply on these islands is primarily in private hands. Diesel turbines generate electricity, but that is quickly changing as the cost of solar panel alternatives decreases. In the case of Roatán Ministry of Interior, there are well over 5,796 houses that have electrical service. In Utila, there are just over 538 homes with electricity, and in Guanaja there are an estimated 1,116 homes. Electric power services in Roatán have been awarded to Roatán Electric Company (RECO). In Utila, they have been awarded to the Utila Power Company (UPCO). In Guanaja, there is a large plant generator and several small ones for electricity.
Water Systems in the Bay Islands
ROATAN WATER SYSTEM
In Roatán, according to the National System of Aqueducts and Sewers, there are five systems of rural waters, and 4 per pumping systems, which supply a population of well over 24,816 and 4,737 homes. According to the Ministry of Interior, well over 5,771 homes have water services in their dwelling. Either by a public or private pipeline. Some of the individual water lines are from local wells which tap into an aquifer.
UTILA WATER SYSTEM
In Utila, there are wells and a desalination plant. The cost to power the desalination plant in Utila is high because the cost of electricity is also high.
GUANAJA WATER SYSTEM
In Guanaja, reforestation work in the Pinos forest helps protect water sources, The main island of Guanaja distributes water to Bonacca and Savannah Bight.
Roatan Electric Company (RECO)
Roatan is unique in that it is among the poorest of the Caribbean islands. Also, Roatan has an energy problem. The power grid on Roatan is fueled by diesel turbines, which is expensive. This has two large implications:
- Electricity is expensive on Roatan, and that usually means, hotels and rental homes pass along these cost to their tenants. Be sure to ask about any electric accessorial before your arrival or before moving in.
- About the power grid in Roatan. The island is too small and doesn't have the density in its population to justify or make a power grid upgrade a reality. The investment simply cannot be justified. This leaves Roatan with an energy grid which is controlled by a very small group. This is a major reason why larger hotels chains have not, and likely will not, establish themselves in Roatan. That said, advancements in Solar technology have started to change this narrative.
Central cooling is all but nonexistent on the island. What is more common are ceiling fans and or window A/C units. And they are not to be left on while you're not in the room. It is expected that A/C units be left off while a guest is away from their rooms. Most guests use their A/C only at night, to ensure a good nights sleep.
"Fun Fact: On average, RECO uses 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel daily."
As you would expect, sanitation in Roatan must be addressed as a priority because of the potential negative impact on the environment. For this reason, each municipality counts on its landfills for wastes removal. Each municipality also has systems for the collection of solid waste, although these are usually insufficient compared to the amount of solid waste generated. Guanaja deposited in a landfill located near Bonaca. In Roatan, there are wetlands and a Mud Hole near French Harbor and Oak Ridge.
There are two wastewater treatment plants in Roatán. The first is located in Coxen Hole and another in West End. It is also the case that some of the hotels, establishments, and houses do not have adequate sanitation systems. Many old systems still channel waste directly into mangrove forest or directly into the sea. For this reason, it is a top priority for island officials to consider this critical situation, and a plan should be established and implemented for the adequate management of services that can meet the needs of the Bay Island.