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Statement By Minister For Communications And Works On Fourth CARILEC/World Bank/UK Regulatory Forum Renewable Energy Conference

The hosting of this Fourth CARILEC/World Bank/UK Regulatory Forum/Renewable Energy Conference is very timely for us here in the Virgin Islands.

 

As I understand it, this forum on electricity sector regulation, is specifically tailored for us as Ministers and other officials and stakeholders, to further discuss guiding principles for creating an enabling environment for regulation in the Caribbean.

 
Here in the Virgin Islands, our Government, led by Premier, Dr. the Honourable Orlando Smith in its 2011 Manifesto underscored the importance of ensuring an adequate supply of electricity to the Territory of the Virgin Islands.
 
Accordingly, we pledged to continue to provide full support to the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC), a statutory body created under The Laws of the Virgin Islands, Chapter 277, to fund the expansion of its capacity to meet local demand at the right price to the consumer.
 
Through conservation, investment and other means, our Government remains committed to ensuring that the generating capacity is of such that allows for rotation, to allow for preventative maintenance.
 
In terms of progress to date, our Government, through my Ministry of Communications and Works and the BVIEC, has developed a policy for the implementation of renewable energy for the Virgin Islands.
 
 The intention is to produce 30 percent of the Territory’s power supply by the year 2023 through renewable energy sources.  Such sources include the use of solar, wind, energy from waste, water heaters, lifestyle changes and recycling.
 
I am pleased to report that: 
 
  • the BVIEC is vigorously pursuing its Phase five plan, which is meant to expand the generation capability in the Virgin Islands to 59 megawatts within the next 24 months
 
  • the transmission route between Pockwood Pond and Road Town is being expanded and diversified under the Phase five Plan
 
  • BVIEC is in consultation with the Attorney General’s Office to finalise the necessary legislative changes to permit the production of renewable energy, as an energy source in the Territory
 
  • Requests for Proposals or RFPs are being developed to replace all Territorial street lights with a combination of LEDs and solar
 
  • BVIEC is in the initial stages of its Request for Proposals or RFPs for the installation of solar PV systems on various buildings of Government and Statutory bodies
 
  • solar farms are also being developed via Public Private Partnerships or PPPs with five (5) government sites under consideration and at least one (1) private utility scale project, and

 

  • a gradual replacement of diesel with liquefied propane is being considered, a move which brings economic and environmental benefits, among others.
 
Three years after coming to office, as Minister responsible for carrying out this portfolio, I cannot say that I am pleased with progress in renewable energy implementation thus far.  I am totally disappointed that three years since coming to office, we have not been able to amend legislation to allow the use of renewable energy by private citizens to the fullest extent. 
 
In any case, the buck stops here and I as Minister for Communications and Works, take full responsibility for this slow undesirable phase.  I do hope that coming of this week’s meetings, that we, as a Caribbean grouping, can join forces and meaningfully tackle an aggressive adaption and implementation of renewable energy over the next ten years.
 
 While I accept that it is not an overnight fix and it requires huge capital investment in many cases, government and utility boards across the Caribbean need to work more closely together to achieve the obvious renewable energy benefit deserving to its citizens and the environment in which we live.  I criticize myself as Minister and our governments today, not to put down anyone, but to galvanise our governments across the Caribbean to jointly seek for capital resources that may be available throughout the world towards climate change adaptation, through the use of renewable energy sources. 
 
Before I close, I would like to wish CARILEC happy 25th anniversary this year.  The BVI is a founding member of this regional utilities association.  
 
I proudly recall that our membership was initiated while our current Minister for Health and Social Services Honourable Ronnie Skelton was the General Manager of the BVIEC.
 
 I wish the association continued success as you continue the mission of enhancing the effectiveness of your members to provide industry related services, create regular networking, train and share knowledge opportunities; support mutual assistance programmes and be an advocate for the industry throughout the Caribbean.
 
 I wish you a very productive conference and encourage our visitors to spend some time exploring the beautiful Virgin Islands, before you leave. 
 


Category/ies:British Virgin Island, British Virgin Islands, News.
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