February 4, 2014

Step up our commitment to renewable energy

Tue Feb 04, 2013

VINLEC’s announcement that the company would use its own resources to absorb the expected post flood disaster spike in the fuel surcharge on our monthly electricity bill will, we have no doubt, be largely welcomed by homeowners across the country, especially those still struggling to recover from the destructive floods.{{more}}

Relief apart, the fuel surcharge discussion has again drawn national attention to the troubling issue of high and growing prices which the country continues to pay for the imported fuel used for electricity generation. The January 2013 fuel consumption figure, as an example was $1.3 million, according to VINLEC.

The numbers should force us as a nation to renew and step up our commitment to the renewable energy initiatives on the national agenda.

The hydro plants at Cumberland, Richmond and South Rivers, at peak, provided 18 to 20 percent of our electricity needs, according to VINLEC’s figures. The extensive damage from the Christmas floods, which the company said will take up to a year to repair, has left a gap in electricity supply which has to be filled by the diesel generators. Clearly the hydro plants are needed back in full operation as quickly as resources will allow.

Further encouragement should be given to those homeowners, currently small in numbers but growing, who have installed solar and wind energy systems, and who benefit from net-metering arrangements with VINLEC which allow excess capacity to be traded on the national grid.

We also need to galvanize national support for the early exploratory steps in the move to exploit the country’s geothermal energy resources. Initial projections put the potential contribution from this source at a significant ten megawatts, with the longer term expectation that it will fully meet the national needs and produce excess for export.

Clearly alternative energy initiatives and accompanying energy saving measures need at this time to be accorded higher priority in national debate and action.