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Bahamian government urges people to save energy, use renewable sources

Government says it will stress the need for alternative energies solutions to complement the dependency of The Bahamas on fossil fuels during Energy Awareness Week that begins on November 4 – 7. The Hubert Ingraham administration said it is urging Bahamians to accept the reality of adapting to alternatives because the days of cheap fossil energy have long gone. “Energy prices impact the price level of virtually everything in society, particularly food and transportation. The cost of and supply of energy in The Bahamas represent significant challenges and opportunities for all residents and businesses,” said Environment Minister Earl Deveaux. He said that the Bahamas Electricity Company (BEC) spends in excess of a quarter of a billion dollars annually to produce electricity. “Collectively, Bahamians spend over a billion dollars to light their homes and businesses, cook, wash, dry, cool and heat water. Any savings can release significant, additional purchasing power for individuals, businesses, and government.”

Deveaux assured Bahamians that the energy crisis is not unique to The Bahamas, as mounting scientific evidence shows that widespread unregulated use of carbon-based energy is destroying the planet and way of life. “Small Island States throughout the world, especially in the Pacific and the Caribbean, are particularly vulnerable to energy abuse and the reckless manner in which fossil fuels continue to be used. The Bahamas is considered the fourth most vulnerable place on Earth to global sea level rise. “The Bahamas has joined a regional initiative to look at ways to deal with energy, by placing priority on energy efficiency and conservation, to heighten awareness of information to citizens on sustainable energy options.”

Deveaux said the government was seeking to develop solutions to ease the pressure of global climate change and fossil fuel inflation on Bahamians, especially in public places where they do not have the direct responsibility for paying the bills. He said the price of oil more than doubled over the last 20 years exceeding $148 a barrel in 2008 causing gas prices in New Providence to hover near six dollars per gallon. “Turning off digital services and remotes can significantly reduce energy consumption in any home or business environment. Twenty years ago, the cost of a barrel of oil on the open market was less than $50. Our practices were much different then because energy was relatively cheap. Gas cost a little over two dollars a gallon and Sunday afternoon drives were commonplace,” he said. But he noted “we kept air conditioners running and had no regard for inefficient appliances, like water heaters and refrigerators. But the cost of energy continues to rise. Increasingly, oil producing nations balance their budgets at a price for oil higher than US$80 per barrel, which is a clear indicator that it will never again be cheap,” he said. Deveaux said the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB) took a close and critical look at the financial management and operations of BEC and evaluated its ability to integrate renewable energies to promote sustainability and efficiency through inter-island connections on an island-by- island basis.

Bahamians were also given options about how to use energy and from where to get it to avoid paying high prices. “We cannot do without energy. All human activity requires some expenditure of energy. The challenge is to develop an energy strategy that is efficient and sustainable and causes individuals to make informed energy choices. In 2008, the government appointed a national energy policy committee to advise on sustainable energy awareness and usage. “The committee noted the Bahamas’ extreme vulnerability to fluctuations in oil prices, which affect electricity and transportation costs, key inputs to tourism and banking, two of the pillars of our economy. In addition, it noted that existing sources of renewable energy generation in The Bahamas was scarce and that the current laws and regulations did not adequately incentivise growth in renewable energy,” he added. Deveaux said that the government has offered and provided tax incentives to promote fuel and energy efficiency in lighting, vehicles, and solar water heaters to reduce the average energy load in Bahamian homes. It has also revised the 2011 / 2012 Customs Import Duty Regulations to encourage Bahamians to import energy efficient technology. “The incentives by the government to permit individual consumers and businesses to make better energy choices should not be undervalued,” said Deveaux.



Category/ies:Bahamas News.
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