Through a private arrangement which seeks to ensure that by 2023 the Territory decreases its fossil energy dependency the BVI is about to make good on its energy conservation strategy.
It was announced long ago that the Ministry for Communications and Works under whose authority the BVI Electricity falls is keen to see the Territory cut its dependency on fossil fuels by 50 percent through the use of energy supplied by alternative means.
Although the project is still in the discussion phase, Mr. Leroy Abraham, the General Manager of BVI Electricity Corporation announced that this is a step in the right direction for the organization which spends 60 percent of its costs on fuel.
During a press conference on 25 July to open the tender for the new fuel arrangement Abraham announced that the BVI EC has had plans for the better part of a decade and a half to diversify energy production in the Territory utilizing renewables.
But flimsy hope and “special” interests are part of the equation that most likely is the cause of the pervasive dilatory “mañana” syndrome that has slowed the process to an endless “wait ‘n see” for 15 years.
“At this point and stage what I would say the success is, that we have achieved over that period of time [is]we were successful in assisting the Government of the Virgin Islands in actually changing the legislation or adding legislation that actually permits renewables. At this point and stage we are hoping in the not too distant future that the supporting regulations to support that legislation which has already passed will likewise be passed to provide the opportunity for customers to utilize renewable energy,” the General Manager announced.
It is to be hoped that the remedy is not worse than the problem.
Mr. Abraham said that the dream of seeing renewable energy becoming a part of the power supply in the BVI is close to realization as the Corporation completes talks with a private company with plans to develop a utility scale renewable energy plant.
“We are… in discussions with some private developers for the installation of what we term as utility scale projects, which are large scale for us …solar …renewable projects; which would be integrated… so we are looking at a blended mix of energy products with renewables being a portion of it,” he disclosed.
The General Manager explained that the BVI may never become fully reliant on alternative energy, but he said that these forms of fuel should still be a part of power supply.
In fact, Abraham disclosed that the BVIEC is about to sign a contract with a regional company with specialization in alternative energy production. “We are having discussions right now with a company called Caribbean Alternative Energy, we have been having discussions with them viewing their proposals for the better part of four years going through a very thorough a technical and financial due diligence we are at the point and stage of developing a contract which we call a power purchase agreement and hopefully…before the ending of the year – in the next few months we should be able to confirm the terms of that arrangement and execute the project,” he pointed out.
Residents Keen on Renewable Energy
The push now to see the incorporation of renewable energy in the Territory comes not only after legislative strides, but following two petitions from residents. The most recent of the petitions was made in 2017 by a petitioner who was identified as ATEC.
While making the case for the move to renewable energy ATEC said: “Making the transition to renewable energy in the BVI is very important. It will enable us to reduce and eventually eliminate our dependence and spending on foreign fuel. This will secure the energy future of the British Virgin Islands and help us to save Millions in the short term and Billions in the long term as a community.”
ATEC noted that the Territory has already commenced the move towards renewable energy from a legislative perspective and stated that the process should go even further: “The legal framework is in place and only a few final decisions need to be made to finalise the regulation for the law. The regulation needs to be passed through the BVI House of Assembly to complete the process.”
This is not the first time the Government has been petitioned about renewable energy. In 2012 local company Green VI presented Government with draft regulations that spelt out the process for residents interested in renewable energy to obtain permission to install alternative energy systems.
Green VI’s draft legislation was coupled with a petition that was signed by over 1,500 residents who wished to see the BVI progress to renewable energy. The petition stated: “The BVI is blessed with abundant sunshine and trade winds. We want to use these to produce our own clean energy so we are less dependent on imported, expensive and polluting fossil fuels.”