Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 15, 2016 (SKNIS)-The Government of National Unity is moving progressively with finding solutions to the high cost of energy that is contingent on the use of costly fossil fuels that are environmentally detrimental, while at the same time finding remedies to the adverse effects of climate change that has resulted in lower levels of rainfall resulting in critical shortages of water supply affecting several communities.
Financial Secretary, Mrs. Hilary Hazel, commenting on the 2017 Budget Estimates discussions on October 14, said that the government is looking at energy efficiency.
“We are looking at an exciting project in the energy sector. We are partnering with the Caribbean Development Bank to look at an energy efficiency program for public lighting,” said Mrs. Hazel. “We have the intention to be a greener economy and these are some of the critical steps, small but critical, that we have to invest in to make sure the public comes along in terms of its thinking because there are things that individual homeowners can do.”
She also said that the Government is planning to do an audit of all public buildings to see whether or not they can be transformed to bring about some cost savings.
In May of this year during the opening ceremony of the three-day Regional Geothermal Forum at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, the Honourable Ian Patches Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, said that having greater access to cleaner and affordable energy “can only translate into reduced cost for the hotel and manufacturing sectors, other businesses, and most importantly for consumers”.
“Development of a carbon-free energy sector will determine our future. We have therefore developed a renewable energy roadmap that will result in lower electricity bills, and in the process address the concerns of greenhouse emissions,” said Minister Liburd, while highlighting that cleaner and affordable energy will encourage economic growth and reduce socio-economic problems. As well as this, there are also options for people to do some research into finding Pulse Power rates, for example, as these may be lower than ones that people are currently paying for their electricity bills. Saving money on bills can be very useful for any household, especially if the amount seems higher than usual.
“As a government, we have taken a comprehensive approach to energy planning in order to face the many challenges that confront our people,” he said while explaining that it is a three-pronged approach. These include energy security, energy equity and ensuring that issues relating to energy are adequately addressed.
Minister Liburd said that currently there is a proposal for a 10-megawatt solar farm on St. Kitts, which is a power purchase agreement between the St. Kitts Electricity Company Limited (SKELEC) and a private investor while adding that the development of a 5-megawatt wind farm is also being finalized.
The exploration of geothermal energy started in St. Kitts earlier this year by Teranov, an engineering Guadeloupe-based company. The results of this exploration are to be made known to the Government. There are also two solar farms on St. Kitts: one at the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw International Airport, and the other alongside the roundabout on the Frigate Bay Road.
Additionally, the financial secretary said that there will be a project to look at the augmentation of the water supply.
“We have the project that we will be looking at exploring the augmentation of water supply with the construction or the drilling of new wells that would continue from this year into 2017. Added to that, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure has also put on the cards on the table, in a very formal way, the possibility for funding to be provided for a desalination plant that would help tremendously in sustaining the provision of water in the event that we continue to experience drought conditions,” Mrs. Hazel said.
This year several communities have had to undergo the rationing of water because of drought conditions. New pipes were laid in Mansion Village to bring relief to the Phillips and Lodge communities providing about 150,000 gallons of water.
“We have requested proposals for the supply of a drill rig. We intend to drill some seven sample wells out of which it is expected that we’ll find two wells to produce 1 million gallons of water right from here in Ogees so (that) your problems will be solved shortly,” Minister Liburd promised earlier this year to the people in the St. Peter’s area.
In April of this year, the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) donated EC $620,000 to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to help bring relief to consumers impacted by the ongoing drought-like condition, while the Federal Government provided over EC $600,000 to the Water Department to ensure that the water situation in the areas of Mansion – Phillips – Molineux can be significantly improved.