March 16, 2004 — The V.I. Energy Office, one of the most successful public agencies in the Virgin Islands, is celebrating its 30th anniversary. As if that wasn't enough, the office is also commemorating the 25th anniversary of its annual outreach campaign, Virgin Islands Energy Education Week.
For the past three decades, the Energy Office has been promoting products and techniques the average person can use to conserve energy. The office also encourages consumers of electricity to explore the use of energy alternatives like solar and wind-driven power.
Officials at the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, in announcing the 30th anniversary of VIEO, called it "the lead agency in championing greater awareness and education of energy efficiency and renewable energy technology to the people of the Virgin Islands."
According to Energy Office Director Victor Somme, part of the agency's staying power can be credited to its own prudent use of financial resources. "This milestone is important because many state agencies, many state energy offices, are no longer funded by overcharge or petroleum violation escrow funding. The Virgin Islands has been very prudent in its management of funding available to us, unlike many states that have oil overcharge or PVE funds depleted.
"We've been very, very prudent in the management of our funds over the last 30 years, and we hope that we'll exist for another 30 years," Somme said Monday.
Supporters of the Energy Office and its efforts are also looking to the future by setting up a new scholarship fund designed to encourage V.I. students to learn more about alternative energy and energy conservation systems. The Vincent D. George Scholarship Endowment was formalized Friday at a ceremony held at the UVI Sports and Fitness Center.
Two discretionary grant programs are also being conducted to tell prospective applicants more about the scholarship program. One of those programs is being held today on the St. Thomas and St. Croix campuses of UVI.
"This scholarship was established at the university to afford local students an opportunity to study energy efficiency, renewable energy or energy management at a national U.S. Department of Energy laboratory," Somme said. "Students who are selected by the university selection committee will either conduct an internship, participate in research situations or take credited course work in energy efficiency, renewable energy or energy management."
This scholarship was made available, Somme said, because the Energy Office has found that very few individuals are involved locally in the fields of energy efficiency technology or energy management. In order to keep from having to rely on outside consultants, Somme said its time for the territory to think ahead and grow their own base of experts who can be called on to direct and assist future energy initiatives.
"What we want to do is create local capacity so we can sit back ten years from now and say, 'Hey, this person is from the University of the Virgin Islands and they have a background in energy efficiency technology, renewable energy or energy management.'"
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.