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Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie and other officials viewed the very first grid-tied renewable energy inspection conducted on the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) building last week.
The installation of the solar system on the building was done in partnership with the BVI Electricity Corporation (BVIEC) and comes at a time when the Government of the Virgin Islands is forging ahead with plans to get ‘Green Smart’ and improve the Territory's energy supply to ensure its affordability, reliability and accessibility to all residents and visitors.
Mr. Dana Miller who represents aTec, a BVI-based renewable energy company, said the purpose of the inspection was to establish proper permitting and inspection guidelines for renewable energy in the BVI.
Mr. Miller said, “This system has a battery backup which allows it to function in an off-grid mode or a battery backup mode or a grid tie mode, so it has been functioning to create reliable backup power for YEP. But the question now is, can we use the excess production to offset some of the electricity usage by feeding back to the BVI Electricity Corporation?”
Mr. Miller further stated that this is the first step towards getting to the renewable energy goals in the BVI and following the energy resiliency plan to get to around 70 to 80 percent renewable energy in the Territory.
Premier Fahie said the Territory going ‘Green Smart’ is one of the areas his Government will be focusing on in the upcoming budget for the year 2020. “We cannot just talk about getting a cleaner environment, saving money and energy. We must also do what we say and that has to be done through legislation and through the budget process,” he said.
The Premier added that this is a first step in a good direction and that the Government is working with the BVI Electricity Corporation to conduct training in January for young persons from Districts 1 to 9 on the installation of Green Energy systems.
“We do not want to enter new technology before we train our people on how to be versed in installations and how to operate these systems,” Premier Fahie explained.
Deputy General Manager at BVIEC, Ms. Symorne Penn said the corporation is now moving from Category 1 customer class which is a consumer, to two customer classes, which are consumers and consumer generators.
Ms. Penn said, “Consumer generators on the regulations means that persons utilising a net billing arrangement can enter into an inter connection agreement.”
YEP Representative Kimon Lewis said the project will benefit the organisation by reducing its electricity costs and this will make way for the funding of other programmes. “We also want to show youths that alternate energy is coming and that they can learn from it,” he said, adding, “We have other projects alongside this that would give them that type of information.”
The inspection was also viewed by representatives from United States Virgin Islands’ Water and Power Authority (WAPA) and the Department of Planning and Natural Resources on St. Croix.
The Government of the Virgin Islands will continue to implement strategies to minimise the Territory’s carbon footprint, reduce its dependence on fossil fuel over time, lead the charge for the creation of green jobs and the reduction of energy costs.