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
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.