March 7, 2008 -- The V.I. Public Defenders Office demonstrated at an open house Friday that government agencies can work together efficiently to curb the Virgin Islands dependency on foreign oil.
The Public Defenders Office received grant money from the Virgin Islands Energy Office, a division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, to install five solar lights in the parking lot around its building in Clifton Hill within the year. Chief Territorial Public Defender Harold L. Willocks, in his opening remarks at the lighting celebration marking completion of the project, encouraged other government agencies to take advantage of such funds.
Onaji Jackson, of Sustainable Systems, one of the project contractors, said typical payback for such projects is two and a half to four years. "This is an example of taxpayers money well spent. Jackson pointed out that another project just down the road at the University of Virgin Islands, where 72 lights were installed, has already paid for itself. They are now getting free lighting.
Bevan R. Smith, Jr., director of the Energy Office, said, "We appreciate this type of professionalism and vision of going for alternative energy.
The cost of the project was $34,000. The Energy Office Discretionary Grant Program, funded through Stripper Well Restitution Funds, gave $20,000 for the project.
The project is also expected to contribute to cleaner air, cutting down on the release of 5,900 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
We, as a local community, are in a big transition period," Jackson said. "We are going from the old energy paradigm of petroleum energy to renewable energy. He added that though it was an exciting time, there were challenges.
About two dozen people attended the open house. This included members of the media, government, and two representatives from NR Electric which did the installation of the lights. The parking lot lights, which will benefit several businesses located in the building, came on near the end of the event.
The Energy Offices Discretionary Grant Program includes several categories -- energy education outreach projects, energy efficiency building retrofit projects, solar outdoor lighting, and the energy education mini-grant program. Grant application information is available on the web at www.vienergy.org or by calling the Energy Office at 774.3320.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.