REMARKS BY JUNIOR MINISTER FOR TOURISM
HONOURABLE SHARIE B. DeCASTRO ON BEHALF OF PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE HONOURABLE ANDREW A. FAHIE
CONTRACT SIGNING FOR THE RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR ANEGADA
R&R Malone Complex, Pock Wood Pond – Forge Conference
5 NOVEMBER, 2021
RENEWABLE ENERGY ON THE MOVE IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
I am happy to be here this morning.
This is indeed a special moment, as today’s contract signing signals progress with renewable energy in the Virgin Islands. What better place to start such an eco-friendly initiative than Anegada?
Ever since your Government took office, we have made it a priority to focus on environmentally friendly initiatives that would not only protect our way of life, but also create green jobs.
This is why we ensured that this major initiative was executed in the direction of green energy with the creation of a micro-grid on Anegada.
The population size and topography make Anegada ideal for this renewable energy initiative, as the micro-grid will assist in reducing the number of resources needed to run the energy plant on Anegada.
We thank the BVI Electricity Corporation’s Chairman Mrs. Rosemary Flax and the other members of the Board. We also thank General Manager Mr. Leroy Abraham and his team for their diligence in ensuring we could achieve this milestone today.
What is also remarkable is that the nature and scope of this type of project is new to the Virgin Islands, and we want it to be clear that our main objective is to ensure that Anegada remains unspoiled.
We wish to congratulate Power52 Clean Energy on being tasked with the responsibility of completing this project and we look forward to seeing it come to fruition.
The challenges that Anegadians have faced in accessing a reliable power supply are well known and have existed for a very long time.
One of the complications with the present system is getting fuel to Anegada to run the power plant, which affects the reliability of the electricity supply on the island.
Today, we are here to make change happen.
In addition to being committed to seeing a reduction of inputs to fossil-fuel-based energy generation, we are also focused on securing a more efficient and reliable electricity supply source for Anegada.
Today's contract signing shows that alternative energy is no longer just a conversation, but a commodity to households not just in Anegada but in the Virgin Islands, as a whole.
As a Territory, we have firsthand experience of the exorbitant cost associated with recovery efforts especially after the hurricanes of 2017.
One of the lessons we have learned from these hurricanes is the cost to restore adequate energy supply to our communities, this highlights the need to create sustainable energy sources using innovative technologies while driving a cleaner environment.
Additionally, we see alternative energy as a gateway to provide meaningful employment, additional revenue streams and to foster citizen participation in building the Virgin Islands' energy sector.
As we strive to "Go Green" as a Territory and foster sustainable development to allow for more efficient use of the natural environment, we must remember that the Virgin Islands is especially vulnerable to the impact of climate change due to the weather patterns.
We must also remember that the Virgin Islands is vulnerable, in that, the increased strength of the hurricanes and the unpredictability of them and their potential impact on our tourism sector, as well as other sectors, and the overall economy is of grave importance. The occurrence of a massive flood and two of the strongest hurricanes in the history of the Atlantic season in 2017, which we remember very vividly is a strong evidence of this.
No doubt, the impact of climate change globally has been significant, especially over the last decade, and the continued use of fossil fuels is seen as a major contributor.
As such, the global community has set a target of achieving net-zero carbon by 2035, and we in the Virgin Islands will not be exempted from this goal.
I also take this time to acknowledge that Minister for Natural Resources and Labour Honourable Vincent Wheatley is at the COP26 conference in Scotland representing the Virgin Islands, along with other Overseas Territories representatives.
The target, by the way, is essential for curbing the rise in global temperatures, which are resulting in rising sea levels, increases in catastrophic climate events such as hurricanes and floods, injury to sensitive species such as coral reefs and marine life, and more.
No doubt, our grid must be made more resilient, and it is high time for alternative energy sources to be part of the process that drives our economy forward. As such, the use of solar, wind, and water as alternate sources of energy must be at the forefront of the Virgin Islands' future energy needs.
We are pleased that the BVI Electricity Corporation continues to promote its ‘Green Energy’ initiative, where residents are being encouraged to install distributed generation renewable energy and we will continue to do our part as a Government.
Your Government's Virgin Islands 'Going Green' initiative continues to make provision for persons to make significant saving by adopting or transitioning to green, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy.
All these little steps are big wins for our environment that are often threatened by the effects of climate change.
The 'Going Green' initiative also makes provision for the transition to electric vehicles.
We will continue to push ourselves to 'Go Green' and adopt more environmentally friendly options for the future of the Virgin Islands to demonstrate our seriousness about this.
We currently have a zero tax on importing clean energy systems such as solar and wind power generation equipment and hybrid vehicles.
We have always said that by 2030 the Virgin Islands can be 60 percent green, thus reducing the Virgin Islands' carbon footprint and saving the private and public sector millions of dollars presently spent in imported fossil fuels.
Today's contract signing puts this into focus and initiates this Government’s proactive efforts toward renewable energy on Anegada, and shows that transitioning to green, renewable energy is important for our people and our environment.
Through the BVI Electricity Corporation, your Government will continue to be proactive in establishing and executing high-level goals for the Virgin Islands’ renewable energy.
What we are achieving today ladies and gentlemen, and the great things that will be achieved in the future cannot be achieved without the hard work and dedication of the team at the BVI Electricity Corporation. We thank you for your continued hard work and commitment.
As a Government, we would also like to acknowledge and thank successive Governments for doing their part in strengthening the energy capacity and infrastructure of the Virgin Islands.
I look forward to the successful completion of the Hybrid Renewable Energy and Battery Energy Storage System Project on Anegada, and to the continued advancement of a greener Virgin Islands.