The Unity Labour Party Manifesto 2015
Table of Contents
The steep increase in the cost of energy since the year 2000 (from US $30 per barrel of crude oil in 2000 to US $148 per barrel in mid-2008 and stabilising currently at around US $60 per barrel) and the insecurity attendant upon the supply of fuel internationally, have caused immense socio-economic challenges to small-island development states like St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The over-dependence on expensive, imported fuel for electricity generation has been a major developmental hurdle for St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This basic fact prompted the ULP government, in its second term (2005 – 2010), to elaborate a comprehensive National Energy Policy and Companion Action Plan to address, among other things, the fundamental issues of Energy Efficiency (EE) and Renewable Energy (RE). A string of Energy Efficiency (EE) measures have been initiated including those relating to energy-saving light bulbs, LED street lights, electrical equipment, air condition systems, installations, building codes and the like.
On the Renewable Energy (RE) front, the quest to replace expensive imported diesel for electricity generation has gathered remarkable momentum. By the end of 2018, it is expected that a renewable mix of clean energy involving geothermal (12 megawatts), hydro (just over 5 mega watts), and solar, will provide some 87 percent of the current peak demand for electricity of 21 megawatts. Currently, diesel generation provides some 80 percent of peak electricity demand; by the end of 2018, diesel will provide less than 20 percent of peak electricity demand. In 2014, St. Vincent and the Grenadines spent EC $55 million on imported fuel for electricity generation. On the basis of this price, geothermal development will save our country at least EC $35 million in foreign exchange, occasioned by the anticipated huge decline in diesel imports.
The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in a consortium partnership with two tried and tested global partners, Emera (A Canadian company with an extensive Caribbean presence in power generation) and Reykjavik Geothermal of Iceland ___ a major player in geothermal development. The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is providing substantial technical advice free of cost to us; so, too, are our advisory partners from the governments of New Zealand and Japan. The 12-megawatt geothermal development has an estimated price tag of US $82 million, to be financed by equity capital, grants, and soft-loans. It is to be noted that while the geothermal plant will be owned jointly by the government, Emera and Reykjavik Geothermal, the geothermal resource itself is the property of the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The actual area of the geothermal resource to be exploited through the present initiative is estimated at 60 megawatts, almost three times our current peak demand. Throughout St. Vincent, the overall geothermal resources are estimated at between 150 and upwards of 300 megawatts. Possibilities exist, too, for the export of geothermal energy to St. Lucia and Barbados. The Geothermal Development Bill has already been passed by the Parliament; actual production drilling is scheduled to start by mid-2016.
VINLEC will continue to be responsible for the distribution and transmission of electricity. VINLEC will sign a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the consortium which will produce the geothermal energy, in accordance with the Letter of Intent. It remains a steadfast policy of the ULP government to keep VINLEC in full state-ownership; it is not for sale to private entrepreneurs, whether local or foreign – individuals who would, without hesitation, raise your power bill.
In our fourth term, the ULP Government will:
✔ Proceed swiftly to develop geothermal energy, a potential game-changer for our economy and society, in accordance with the following central objectives: Reducing and stabilising electricity prices; providing a reliable supply of electricity; increasing our national energy security; reducing markedly foreign exchange outflows; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the natural environment; and building and operating the geothermal plant in a safe manner;
✔ Complete, in the interest of consumers, the ongoing modernisation and expansion of VINLEC, including the improvements in the hydro-plants, the facilitation of the expansion of solar energy; and the build-out of distribution and transmission facilities to accommodate the geothermal development;
✔ Operate fully the recently-constructed Hugo Chavez Fuel Storage Facility at Lowmans Bay (an EC $80 million facility of diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel, and cooking gas storage) through the joint-venture company between the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and PDV Caribe of Venezuela;
✔ Continue the partnership on the delivery of diesel, cooking gas, and other fuels with Venezuela under the beneficial concessionary financing arrangements of Petro Caribe.
✔ Work closely as always with other importers and distributors of energy products (diesel, gasoline, kerosene, cooking gas) namely, Sol and Rubis, to secure the best terms for Vincentian consumers within the framework of a sensibly regulated pricing regime;
✔ Keep under constant review the pricing of electricity for all categories of consumers so as to satisfy the criteria of fairness. The coming of geothermal energy will require a revamping of the pricing arrangements, particularly in relation to the fuel surcharge; as fuel imports fall as a result of renewable energy, the fuel surcharge will shrink;
✔ Continue to provide fiscal incentives on the importation of solar energy facilities/equipment and energy-saving bulbs;
✔ Continue to provide, through VINLEC, especial relief on electricity prices for hoteliers, and volume discounts for large business consumers of electricity;
✔ Continue the Rural Electrification and Street Lighting Programme;
✔ Ensure that all Informal Human Settlements are provided with electricity to all homes so as to lift electricity connections from around 98 percent of households to practically 100 percent.
✔ Strengthen further the functioning of the Energy Unit and the National Energy Committee;
✔ Accelerate the training of Vincentians in all areas touching and concerning energy, including personnel for solar and geothermal expansion.