Castries, Saint Lucia — A new energy roadmap released on Tuesday reveals a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective, and equitable electricity future for Saint Lucia.
The government of Saint Lucia (GoSL) and St Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) with independent analysis from Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMI-CWR), and Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI) produced a joint strategy, with feedback from the public.
The findings reveal opportunities for new investments and ownership structures to benefit customers.
“We recognize that a successful evolution of our power sector to renewables cannot happen without the participation of the existing electricity utility, LUCELEC. This study reinforces our belief,” said Stephenson King, minister of energy, Saint Lucia.
King was at the time attending the Caribbean Renewable Energy Forum (CREF) in Miami where the new energy roadmap for Saint Lucia was unveiled as a model strategy for the optimal transition to renewable energy in small island developing states.
The strategy explores the best energy resource options ranging from traditional thermal power plants to more innovative sources of supply, like solar, wind, and geothermal, as well as demand-side management and energy efficiency, to contain or reduce costs of the electricity system.
It also set out to explore a variety of ownership models – through financial modeling of energy assets owned by independent power producers, the utility, and homeowners and businesses. The process integrated these technical findings with top-down policy directives; existing and new regulatory frameworks and tariff structures were superimposed on various scenarios, to understand the impact on electricity rates.
? The economically optimal system is a portfolio of solar, wind, energy storage, energy efficiency, and existing diesel generation. Alternative optimal scenarios include geothermal energy if secured at the right power purchase agreement (PPA) price point.
? Existing diesel generation continues to play a role in the near term to meet reserve requirements and maintain reliability of the system.
? The highest degree of utility ownership facilitates the lowest cost of operating the system.
? Energy efficiency is a low-cost resource and the optimal route to immediately minimize system costs once the enabling policy is in place.
The GoSL, as well as LUCELEC, identified a need and an opportunity to improve the resiliency and cost-effectiveness of the electricity sector using the island’s local resources.
“Together, there was an understanding that what was needed to create a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective, and equitable electricity service was not a piecemeal approach to renewable energy investment, but rather a long-term plan to deliver the optimal benefits for the country as a whole,” says Victor Emmanuel, business development manager, LUCELEC.
In order to provide an independent implementation of this strategy; the GoSL enacted the National Utilities Regulatory Commission Act of 2016, which saw the commissioning of the first energy regulatory agency in Saint Lucia. The NURC will promote and ensure the economic development of the utility supply services sector and be responsible for the implementation of the National Energy Transition Strategy (NETS).
The NETS is a plan developed jointly by the government, LUCELEC and executed by independent analysis from the RMI-CWR and CCI – with feedback from the public.
The NETS shows that lower cost systems, where all stakeholders’ interests are met, are indeed possible through an energy transition. Existing diesel infrastructure will continue to provide system reserve and reliability requirements, but energy efficiency and energy storage would play an increasing role in the evolving grid with increasing renewable energy penetration.
The results provide a solid pathway for the government and LUCELEC to understand the price points at which investments and power purchase agreements (PPAs) should occur. The NETS also guides the development of legislation and a regulatory framework that can create new, previously unexplored opportunities.