St. Kitts and Nevis drastically cuts its energy bill

Today, energy is an important concern around the world. This, as developed as well as developing countries grapple to find renewable and more efficient forms of energy. For Caribbean countries, energy is of special concern as it places a major burden onthe public expenditure bill of most Caribbean counties. To this end, numerous measures have been undertaken in many Caribbean nations aimed at reducing electricity cost by educing the cost of energy. Some have had marginal success, others have failed miserably. Yet one country is seeming getting it right – St. Kitts and Nevis seems to be making strides in reducing energy consumption.

At the beginning of this month (June 2013), the population of St. Kitts and Nevis noticed a significant reduction in the total cost of electricity. This reduction is solely related to efforts taken by the government at ensuring that conservation practices are maintained. 

Navito-St. Kitts-Energy 1                  Image Credit: cipore.org     Public education is important

St. Kitts Minister of Energy, Earl Asim Martin, has noted that the reduction was expected, since the efforts have been planned beforehand. On May 11, an exhibition on energy saving was held. The event was sponsored by the Ministry of Energy in collaboration with the St. Kitts Electricity Co., Ltd. (SKELEC) and Industry sugar diversification Foundation (Saudi Industrial Development Fund). Here, the minister revealed the intentions of the government aimed at ensuring that the long term benefits of energy conservation were realised. Martin said the exhibition was intended as a means to educate the masses of Saint Kitts and Nevis as to the ways and means in which they can conserve energy.

Renewable Energy, Not Fossil Fuel

it is common knowledge that for countries to reduce their energybill, they need to diversify their energy sources to include renewable energy. Dependence on fossil fuelmeans that countries must import oil which is undoubtedly expensive and the production of which damages the environment.

Renewable sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectricity are recommended especially in the Caribbean where such resources are abundant. "We have to find ways and means by which we can begin to conserve energy, for us in terms of fossil fuels and those that will generate energy in the future, based on our own concept of renewable energy" said Martin. He stated that the government's policy is to ensure that renewable energy is used in order to reduce the cost of electricity. He said this is closely related to the conservation because the ministry believes that any subsidy must be linked to conservation.

Martin said, "We have decided to rely on the amount that you've consumed, there is a low percentage of the surcharge sector."  He stressed, "Those at the lower end will not only see the rate of decline in the surcharge, but will also see a decrease in the normal cost of electricity."

Navito-St. Kitts-Energy- gridImage Credit: cipore.org         Solar energy use in St. Kitts

Lower Electricity, Stronger Private Sector

The Organization of American States (OAS) has also come on board to partner with St. Kitts in this area. The organisation believes that lower energy costs will help to enthuse and encourage small to medium sized businesses which are required for the successful development of the energy sector. Furthermore, a sustainable energy sector with the correct policy framework along with an attractive mix of incentives will attract private investors to the country. This will furtherbolster economic and infrastructural development.
Legal and Environmental Issues

Of course, surrounding such an undertaking are various legal and regulatory provisions that deal with specific issues such as land and resource use and allocation of rights. For Caribbean nations looking to adopt the St. Kitts model, it is important that they consider ways to avoid legal and environmental problems that would impede the effective development of their energy sector and the promotion of renewable energy initiatives.

Navito-St. Kitts-Energy light bulb               Image Credit: cipore.org   Clean, renewable energy is priority in St. Kitts

St. Kitts exists today as a model country for the Caribbean in terms of the many initiatives which have been implemented to improve their systems and infrastructures. Not only have they drastically reduced the cost of energy, but also revamped IT structures to boost efficiency. In fact, presently, all public high schools in the country have access to wi-fiinternet, provided by the government.

This is the kind of development the Caribbean needs and yearns for. Let the initiatives of St. Kitts and Nevis be an inspiration to other Caribbean nations.

By: Norvan Martin

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