81.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 22, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesAlternative Energy's Time Has Arrived

Alternative Energy's Time Has Arrived

Dear Source:
The federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 requires the Virgin Islands to update its Caribbean Energy Assessment plan prepared in 1981.
A glance at the original plan shows that leaders knew back then where oil prices were going and the special potential the Virgin Islands has for developing alternative sources of energy. With the announcement this week of another 18 percent increase in residential electrical bills, the time has come for this insight to be transformed into action.
Alberto Bruno-Vega, executive director of the Water and Power Authority, said this reassessment plan is very important because it will bring an enormous amount of funding to the Virgin Islands.
V.I. legislators are working on a comprehensive energy policy. Virgin Islanders can make something happen now.
Barbados is an example of what can happen. The government set forth a program with incentives to encourage residents to buy solar water heaters. Estimates are that 40 percent of the homes on Barbados have solar water heaters. (Barbados population is about 280,000 to the Virgin Islands' 108,000.)
According to the Barbados Finance Ministry, the program has had profound effects. The Ministry says on its Web page that the solar water heating industry saves Barbados about $6.5 million per year in imported fuel costs. The ministry adds that the savings for consumers is about $16 million per year.
Barbados is not stopping there, 50 hotels are using renewable energy and the government is getting solar photovoltaic panels for at least one of its buildings.
There are encouraging signs on the Virgin Islands. The WAPA governing board and Bruno-Vega have been making a determined effort to find a supplier of alternative energy and have called for a blue ribbon panel to come up with an energy plan for the Virgin Islands.
The Waste Management Authority is working with the Energy Office to study the possibility of turning garbage into energy. Sen. Louis Hill has been researching how to make solar water heaters the water heaters of choice for Virgin Islanders.
Anyone who is still saying that solar, wind, biomass and geothermal are not economically viable energy sources has not been keeping up.
The National Energy Education Development project recently reported that members of the Navajo Nation in the southwestern United States now have electricity in their homes. They could never afford it before. It now comes to them courtesy of the sun. It is more affordable that way than it ever was the old way.
Virgin Islanders can ill afford another 20 years of missed opportunities and oil dependency.
Don Buchanan
Media Information Specialist
Virgin Islands Energy Office

Editors note:We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.