Statement

Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities
Release Date:
Friday, 14 October 2016 - 12:28pm

STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL
AT THE SECOND SITTING OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE
THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2016
10:00 A.M.

ENERGY POLICY: A ROADMAP TO AN ENERGY EFFICIENT FUTURE

Madam Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to present our Government's Energy Policy of the Virgin Islands to this Honourable House.

You and I, Madam Speaker, in fact every Member of this Honourable House, every citizen, resident and visitor to these islands, depend on energy for living, working and recreation.

If energy, that is - heat and electricity - is not available, is interrupted or is not in adequate supply, the quality of life that we have come to appreciate, will be compromised.

Madam Speaker, your alarm clock probably helped to jolt you out of your sleep this morning, we all had a shower or a bath in cold or warm water, we made breakfast using a gas or an electric stove or a toaster or microwave and we used energy to walk or drive from Point A to Point B.

We all listen to music and watch television, we power appliances, equipment and tools at our business places and job sites and we also depend on energy to light up and cool our homes and businesses.

So Madam Speaker, what I am saying, is that: Energy, whether we notice it or not, is a fundamental part of our daily lives; we have come to depend on it - whether it is solar, wind, ocean-waves, nuclear, or the energy our body produces.

With the Virgin Islands being so heavily dependent on Tourism and Financial Services for its economic survival, it is crucial that we do everything we can, to constantly improve our energy offerings and efficiency, in the face of climate change and fluctuating oil prices.

It is necessary, Madam Speaker, that we, as a country, develop and move towards cleaner and greener energy production opportunities.

This Government, through the Ministry of Communications and Works, is actively and aggressively forging ahead with plans to improve the Territory's energy supply and ensure its affordability, reliability and accessibility, to all residents and visitors.

As such, Madam Speaker, I wish to lay on the Table of this Honourable House today, The Energy Policy of the Virgin Islands.

Madam Speaker, The Energy Policy of the Virgin Islands, will function as the guiding document and road map for implementation.

The strategies will minimize the Territory’s carbon footprint, reduce our dependence on fossil fuel over time, lead the charge for the creation of green jobs and the reduction of energy costs.

This Energy Policy was developed by a committee jointly chaired by Deputy General Manager of the British Virgin Islands Electricity Corporation (BVIEC), Mr. Henry Creque and my Special Adviser in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Mr. Vance Lewis.

Together with over forty (40) local stakeholders, including private and public sector officials, Ministry of Communications and Works and BVIEC employees, they worked purposefully, Madam Speaker, to develop the framework for this Energy Policy.

I would like to publicly thank all of the stakeholders, who gave their invaluable contribution to this project.

In addition, Madam Speaker, I am grateful for the assistance of the international consultant group DNV GL, who was engaged to work with the Ministry and the BVIEC, to finalize the policy over the past five months.

The staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour also provided valuable input, via the Virgin Islands Climate Change Adaptation Policy.

Madam Speaker, the BVI has a relatively stable energy sector, but like other Caribbean countries, remains vulnerable to fluctuations  in  global  oil  prices,  which  affects  household  energy  costs and  the  cost  of all  goods  and  services. 

In  addition,  the burning  of  fossil  fuel  has  negative  environmental  impacts, due  to the emission  of  greenhouse  gases.

Madam Speaker, although the BVI  has  a  wealth  of  untapped  renewable  energy  resources - including  solar,  wind,  ocean-wave and  waste -  that  can  be  converted  to energy, we rely very heavily on imported  oil  and  gasoline,  for  nearly  all  of  our energy  and transportation  needs.

Recognizing  the  importance  of  energy  to  the  Territory’s  economic  and environmental  sustainability,  in 2013, the  Government  of  the  Virgin  Islands developed  a  10-year  Energy  Vision,  with  the  following  targets:

By 2023, 30% of  the  Territory’s  energy  needs, are to be met by renewable  means;

By 2021, we will decrease fossil  fuel  imports  by  20%;

By  2021,  50%  of  consumers  should be using energy  conservation  measures  and/or  renewable  energy technology  of  some  kind;  and also

By 2021, we will reduce fossil fuel inputs to electricity by 80% on Anegada.

Furthermore,  Madam Speaker, the  Government  has  forged  ahead  with  a  number  of  initiatives  towards  the aforementioned energy  goals, including:

Modernizing  the  1979  legislation to  incorporate  the development and management of renewable  energy. This was debated and approved in this Honourable House in 2015;

Amending the 1999  associated  regulations which govern the implementation of the renewable energy industry. This is in its final stages of development;

Implementing  various  conservation  initiatives,  energy  efficiency  measures and renewable  energy  systems;  and 

Started  a  campaign  to  educate  the  public  on  conserving  energy  and water.  

Madam Speaker, by developing  an Energy Policy,  the  Government  has now laid the foundation  for  a  roadmap,  to  work  jointly  with  BVI’s  present and future utility companies,  residents,  homeowners,  businesses and  even  visitors,  to  achieve  an energy  efficient future, that is sustainable and more environmentally friendly.

Some of the strategies included in the draft policy, include:

Increasing renewable energy generation;

Diversifying fuel sources by considering cleaner fossil fuel sources;

Leveraging our growing waste stream for energy generation;

Improving supply-side competition;

Conducting integrated long-term energy planning of resource needs;

Improving supply-side energy efficiency;

Developing a comprehensive transportation plan;

Launching energy awareness and outreach;

Expanding workforce and private sector involvement in energy services;

Establishment of an independent energy regulator;

Improving transmission and distribution efficiency;

Modernizing the grid through smart grid initiatives; and

Improving resilience of the energy infrastructure.

Madam Speaker, this Energy Policy is of such, that it will need to be updated from time to time, to ensure relevancy, in terms of addressing current energy issues  and  trends  in  BVI’s  leading industries.

Madam Speaker, just two days ago, on October 10th and 11th, officials from the Ministry of Communications and Works, participated in the first EU-Caribbean Sustainable Energy Conference in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The theme of the event was "The Caribbean Region - Challenges and Opportunities for the Energy Transformation."

Madam Speaker, conferences such as these, bring together industry experts from the regional and international community, financiers, donors and consultants, in a setting that allows for networking, sharing and exchange of information, on experiences, knowledge and best practice.

Today, Madam Speaker, I lay on the table of this Honorable House , The Energy Policy of the Virgin Islands.

Thank you Madam Speaker.