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‘No fossil fuels by 2024’ – Minister demands FortisTCI goes green


“IT IS critically important that the Turks and Caicos Islands emulates our Caribbean neighbours, or risks being literally left in the dark.”
Those were the damning words of George Lightbourne, Minister of Government Support Services, in a statement to press on the urgency of reducing fossil fuel dependency.
In it he urged the country’s only power provider FortisTCI to commit to generating 50 per cent of its output from renewable energy in five years and 60 to 100 per cent within ten years.
This is a huge hike from last September when he asked the company to commit to a 20 per cent reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
“Fortis has claimed on many occasions that renewables are not commercially or financially viable, that it is not scalable and cannot be smoothly integrated into their grid system,” he said.
“None of this is true and countries as large as Denmark have integrated local demand systems fully into their grid nationwide resulting in huge savings and massive reduction in carbon emissions.”
This month FortisTCI announced plans to install solar panels and a wind turbine as part of a project to assess the viability of renewable energy.
If proved to be financially and technically workable, large scale commercial systems could be installed at the Providenciales plant in less than two years.
But while he supports the plans Lightbourne said a much bigger effort is needed to introduce renewable power production.
“FortisTCI has an obligation to provide reliable electricity to its customers – it is now clear and unequivocally proven that only renewable energy can meet this obligation now and in the future.”
He revealed that the company benefits from the highest allowable profit return of 17.5 per cent – more than double that of most of their other operations.
“Whilst we have an obligation to work with FortisTCI, we have a far greater obligation to our people, the very same people that believed in us, trusted us and voted for us.”
Two weeks ago Govenernment officials took a major step towards embracing renewable energy when they signed an agreement with an international carbon reduction organisation.
Co-founded by billionaire business mogul Richard Branson, Carbon War Room encourages countries to adopt business solutions that will create a low-carbon economy.
“The recent conference offered great enlightenment and hope for the TCI delegation …we quickly realised that change is inevitable,” Lightbourne said.
“That change is all around us, and more and more importantly, we are not alone in the fight for reliable, secure, cheap and clean electrical supply for our people.”
He explained that along with the Carbon War Room, others have reached out to offer support to the TCI including world leading scientists, private equity investors, global banking institutions and other Caribbean governments.
They could help to the country to develop a more sustainable energy programme and more reasonable licencing agreements with FortisTCI, he said.
“We must embrace these offers of support and move towards a more streamlined, more productive and more economically viable, carbon free economy.
“The alternative is to do nothing, deny our people and continue to stick our heads in the sand and complain every time we get a light bill whilst our neighbours and regional competitors thrive and continue to benefit financially, environmentally and otherwise, leaving us far behind.”
He added that the Carbon War Room team will be invited to the TCI at the earliest opportunity to explore further avenues and opportunities.
These were the words of Premier Rufus Ewing one day after the Wednesday (February 12) Cabinet meeting whereby the body considered a draft Energy Policy which has been in development for some time now, and is a legacy of the interim administration.
Cabinet also considered the establishment of an Energy Council.
Earlier this month Cabinet considered a draft Energy Policy which has been in development for some time now, and is a legacy of the interim administration. Members also considered the establishment of an Energy Council.
Premier Rufus Ewing noted that the overarching objective of the policy is to reduce the cost of electricity and to improve energy security and environmental sustainability.
FortisTCI operates exclusive, fully integrated utility systems for the generation and retail and distribution of energy to virtually all of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The company serves the Islands of Providenciales, North Caicos, and Middle Caicos under a 50-year licence which expires in 2037, on South Caicos under a 50-year licence that runs through to 2036, and on Grand Turk and Salt Cay under a 50-year licence that expires in 2036.
The company’s franchise area includes the cays between Providenciales and North Caicos (except Parrot Cay), and East Caicos and adjacent cays and inlets under two 25-year licences granted in March 2012.
FortisTCI were unavailable for comment up to press time. (RB)



Category/ies:News, Turks & Caicos News.
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