Antigua must find alternatives to high costs of imported fuels says PM
ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, Monday November 12, 2012 – Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer says Antigua and Barbuda must take the lead in promoting sustainable uses of energy as the island observes Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Energy Week”.
In a message to mark the occasion, Spencer said that “as a small-island State, Antigua and Barbuda is also among the countries most vulnerable to global climate change resulting from the use of fossil fuels”.
“The use of energy in its various forms is essential to all forms of economic and social development and this year’s celebration of CARICOM Energy Week provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the uses of energy in Antigua and Barbuda and to develop strategies for promoting its efficient and sustainable use,” he said.
The Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said that this year, the region is focusing mainly on building awareness about energy conservation and efficiency, and the development of renewable energy.
It said the Caribbean depends heavily on imported petroleum and petroleum products to the tune of nine billion US dollars annually over the last few years.
“The Community is also focusing on the necessity for a cleaner, greener energy outlook to mitigate the effects of Climate Change. As part of the activities during the week, the CARICOM Secretariat will facilitate a panel discussion with regional energy sector experts on sustainable energy development in CARICOM under the theme Sustainable Energy: a Catalyst for National Development.”
The Secretariat said that the discussion will be televised across the region on Thursday evening.
The Secretariat said that CARICOM Energy Week is being held under the theme “Sustainable Energy Powering a Green Economy” and that it will provide financial support to member states in hosting activities marking the week.
In his message, Prime Minister Spencer, described Antigua and Barbuda as a small island developing state with no known reserves of petroleum, it “is extremely vulnerable to the high costs of imported fuels and also to disruptions in supply due to natural disasters and other causes” and as a result “must lead by example in promoting sustainable uses of energy resources including through energy conservation and energy efficiency.
“Experiences in the Caribbean and elsewhere show us that improving energy efficiency is a critical element of remaining competitive in today’s global economy.
“With the increasingly high international prices for fuel, we have to be innovative and forward-thinking in our efforts to implement energy-efficiency measures that can reduce our costs, minimize our environmental footprint, and enhance our attractiveness as a “green” destination.
“This is likely to be especially important in the highly competitive tourism industry. Already some of our resorts have taken steps in this regard and the Government is desirous of supporting other businesses, in the tourism sector and elsewhere, who may need to retrofit lighting, install solar panels, implement waste water management systems, or introduce other energy saving measures.”
Prime Minister Spencer said a major step in the government’s thrust to promote a green economy is the recently announced electricity interconnection policy for renewable energy.
He said this important initiative will allow accredited private producers of renewable energy to interconnect to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority’s (APUA) grid with provision for the net metering of excess power generated by the private producer.
“This initiative will allow APUA to reduce the amount of electricity which it needs to generate using costly imported petroleum fuels, while also allowing the private consumer to generate an early return on his investment, and lead ultimately to mitigating the price for electricity to the consumer and to the economy as a whole,” he added. (CMC)