Gov’t promises cheaper bills as it intensifies push towards renewable energy

Works Minister Mark Vanterpool. *File photo

Claiming that many residents are still ‘crying out’ against relatively high electricity bills, Communications Minister Mark Vanterpool has reaffirmed the government’s push towards renewable energy sources.

Renewable energy sources, including the sun and wind, can be continually replenished and are said to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly than fuel.

The fuel, which is used to generate electricity, is far too expensive and is resulting in relatively high bills, according to Vanterpool.

“As elected representatives, we have home owners and business owners crying out to us for relief, as their electricity bills climb higher and higher, and they are unable to plan their energy budgets,” he told the recent Rotary District 7020 Conference held here on Tortola.

Vanterpool continued: “Because of the increase in fuel, we here in the Virgin Islands are paying a fuel surcharge today, which causes our electric bill to almost double what it should be, causing undue burdens on our citizens.”

In light of those realities, he stated that Government is stepping up its renewable energy push, starting with legislative changes over the coming months.

“Over the next six months, new legislation will be in place, allowing for renewable energy production, both private and public,” Vanterpool announced.

He further stated that the administration will enter into Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to provide additional financing options in an effort to accelerate the move towards renewable energy.

Consumers will see immediate cost saving benefits from any agreement forged with PPPs, said Vanterpool.

“Once the initial capital cost of the alternative energy device is paid off, full savings will be realized, going forward,” he said.

“This is estimated to reduce consumer bills by about 30 per cent. So, if your bill was $300 per month, the expectation, with the introduction of solar water heaters and LED lights, is to reduce your bill to $200 per month.”

The minister further noted that, by the year 2023, the British Virgin Islands will have almost half of its energy produced by renewable means.