July 17, 2015
SVG leadership praised for move to cleaner energy

The leadership of St Vincent and the Grenadines has been commended for their thrust towards cleaner energy consumption in small island states.

Jan Hartke, the senior advisor at the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), recognized Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves this week, during the official launch of a geothermal project, commending him for his determination to bring the project to fruition.{{more}}

Hartke had bestowed similar praises to this country’s Prime Minister in 2013 when he pledged his team’s full support for Gonsalves and his work for climate change.

“I’m so proud of you for this launch,” Hartke told the Prime Minister on Wednesday. “I remember when you were asked by President Clinton about whether or not you were going to exert political will on behalf of making the jump to clean energy and you responded by talking about what you had already done, which was transformation on the education issues; you talked to him about what you were going to do with the international airport and how it was going to be built with green standards …and that’s well on the way.”

The CCI representative declared that the geothermal project stands to be a great success story for the Caribbean and islands around the world, as it was island countries, which placed the climate change issue on the global agenda in the first place.

He added that Gonsalves was becoming a “walk the walk spokesperson” for small island nations around the world, by being a leader, not only to his country, but for the SIDS DOCK, which is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to help SIDS transform their energy sectors and address adaptation to climate change.

“The first country prime minister to sign up, the first parliament and government to sign up, – and I thank all of you – for this new organization, was you. You’ve been a consistent leader for this country and for other efforts on clean energy and so when you find somebody like that, you just have to go on and on with you to make sure that this clean energy geothermal project get done and it’s going to get done,” he said.

Leslie Labruto, director of the Resilient Communities programme at the CCI also commended the country’s leadership on the matter, stating that CCI was happy to be working with the government to advance whatever support is needed on legal and financial negotiations.

“The Clinton foundation has been involved in the geothermal project in St Vincent since its inception, providing assistance in financial and legal negotiations on behalf of the government. We are so pleased by the progress that has been made to date and we’re very happy to be here today to celebrate the success that’s been made in both public and private sector venture as well as advancing the goals that St Vincent has set out for itself, meeting the energy demand in a veritable manner.”

She added that the clean energy will serve as an opportunity to boost reliability of systems and also reduce the cost that is paid by consumers for electricity.

In his remarks at the conference, Gonsalves noted that the Government has benefitted immensely from their partnership with CCI, which is at no cost to the Government.

As part of CCI’s legal and financial involvement in the geothermal project, Gonsalves revealed that the Initiative will also be responsible for negotiating prices between Reykjavik, Emera and the Government, once the plant is completed.

“It’s not that Reykjavik and Emera are not good and decent corporate citizens, but there’s always lurking in your mind, let us be honest, that they are not philanthropists. They’re in the business to make money,” he said.

“They have to make a dollar, but are they making more than a dollar unreasonably? So, the CCI is there to say listen, this is how school is keeping on both sides of the fence and to get us to come to an understanding reasonableness. It helps you going forward with the project, but it also helps you very much in saving costs otherwise.”(BK)