Message For Caricom Energy Awareness Week 2012

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. The theme adopted for this week’s activities is “Changing Energy Habits today for Antigua and Barbuda’s tomorrow”. This is derived from the overall CARICOM theme which is “Sustainable Energy Powering a Green Economy”.

As a small-island developing State with no known reserves of petroleum, Antigua and Barbuda is extremely vulnerable to the high costs of imported fuels and also to disruptions in supply due to natural disasters and other causes. 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, and therefore 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.

A major step in the government’s thrust to promote a green economy is the recently announced electricity interconnection policy for renewable energy. This important initiative will allow accredited private producers of renewable energy (for example wind and solar) to interconnect to the Antigua Public Utilities Authority’s 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.

APUA, working with the Energy Desk in the Office of the Prime Minster must be commended for this important initiative which places Antigua and Barbuda at the forefront of this innovative approach to sustainable energy development in our region.

At the household and individual level, all of us are faced with the increasing costs associated with energy. While there is little that we can do about the price of energy, we all can take measures to increase the efficiency with which we use that energy, thereby getting more for our dollar. APUA through its Green Antigua programme already provides important tips that consumers can follow to improve our energy efficiency and I invite everyone to visit their website for this purpose.

We ask you to support the week of activities, which will include a panel discussion on ABS Television, daily radio quizzes and energy tips, and a field trip to Local Oil Limited and Themba Biofuels with Environmental Students at the Antigua State College.  Ensure that you get a copy of the special newspaper supplement featuring “Energy Hogs” and the “APUA Interconnection Policy.”

As your government devise plans and programmes to address the global economic crisis, the transition to sustainable energy presents a unique opportunity for us to make our contribution to climate change by powering a green economy.

It is a huge task  - but an achievable one – If we move forward together with one purpose.

I wish you a successful Energy Week 2012, as we all play a part in changing our energy habits today for Antigua and Barbuda’s tomorrow.  Thank You very much.