The American elections have come and gone, and the NDP congratulates the Democratic Party and president Barack Obama on his re election to office.

The Current Situation on Energy

Since the late 1980s, no renewable energy sources have been developed at national level.  The government has published in 2009 a National Energy Policy that seeks to set out guiding principles for the development of the country’s energy future.  However, the existing energy policy document does not present a forward-looking and action-oriented prescription tailored to the situation of the multi-island state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  In fact, the development of a vision for a sustainable energy future for our country has been neglected over the past ten (10) years – and the New Democratic Party will reverse this neglect.  We are committed to aggressively developing our indigenous sustainable energy resources within the framework of a forward-thinking energy policy that will bring fundamental, long-term benefits to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Despite global concerns about the cost of oil, and usefulness of enquiring into renewable energy sources, this government has given only lip service to the real search for alternative energy.

Under the current government, there seems little room for the private sector to become involved in this critical component of our development.  The power plant at Lowman’s Bay had to be retrofitted at great cost to be able to use Bunker C fuel. The size of the engines used also raises the question of the over working of units which will impact on the reliability of the service as well as the need to upgrade urgently.   Non traditional forms of energy such as wind and solar have not been given the attention they deserve.

The Vision

The new vision will focus on an action-oriented programme of development of our indigenous sustainable energy sources, with emphasis on geothermal energy, wind and solar energy, as well as a commitment to energy efficiency – the efficient utilization of all of our energy which will positively impact on the lives of every Vincentian.

Geothermal Energy

The NDP will pursue an aggressive agenda for development of our country’s geothermal energy resources by working with capable, proven private sector entities with the necessary track record in geothermal energy development.  The objective for geothermal energy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be to:
Immediately commence a thorough investigation of the geothermal resource on mainland St. Vincent, and
If the resource is proven, proceed to develop 20 – 50 MW geothermal base load power capacity on the mainland.

This capacity will:- Dramatically reduce foreign exchange expenditure on imported fossil fuels,
Drastically cut national greenhouse gas emissions, and Eliminate the fuel surcharge from customers’ electricity bills.
Wind Energy Preliminary wind regime measurements in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have indicated that wind energy is a readily-available resource that is going to waste.  The new NDP administration will use regional best-practices as a model for developing wind farms using existing technology to provide affordable, environmentally sustainable electricity for businesses, institutions and homes in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Solar Energy

Solar energy use at present in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very limited in all sectors and will be expanded through the application of a coherent programme of tax and financial incentives.

Hotels, businesses and households will get a tax write-off on the purchase of solar water heaters in the year of acquisition.
An NDP government will encourage local lending institutions to access EU low interest funding available for solar energy development.
The NDP will undertake a pilot project to air condition a government building using solar energy, as part of a wider programme of developing an indigenous solar-cooling manufacturing and assembly industry, which will be able to produce solar cooling equipment for the CARICOM market.
Energy Efficiency

Whatever the source of our energy, it needs to be used more efficiently.  The NDP’s vision is to move the nation towards adopting a culture of energy efficiency.  This will be led by example from government level and will involve a comprehensive programme targeted at the transport, household, business and government sectors.

Electrical Interconnection of our Island Grids.

To improve the efficiency in the provision of energy on a multi island state such as ours.  The NDP will work through our public utility, St. Vincent Electricity Services Ltd, to undertake a technical and economic feasibility study of the development of an interconnected national power grid, which will ultimately be powered in the medium term by a minimum of 90% renewable energy.

Energy and Electricity Supply

At present there seems little room for the private sector to become involved in the development of renewable energy.
There is little doubt that non-traditional forms of energy such as wind and solar have not been given the attention they deserve, especially since the cost of oil has gone to over $75.00 per barrel.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an excellent choice for the development of geothermal energy.  Where available geothermal energy is a significantly cheaper and renewable energy source.  Should our potential be realized, this will have significant and positive impact on our fledgling manufacturing sector and give a competitive edge to many small and medium sized enterprises.  It will also afford a unique opportunity to attract new manufacturing enterprises that depend heavily on energy input.

The NDP is aware that there are many options available for the development of alternative energy sources, including using private sector firms that will bring their own investments with long term payoffs for the company and the country.

The NDP will insist that VINLEC focuses on its core competencies and gives up the political distractions that are hindering its ability to deliver at optimum efficiency.