A Private Sector Energy Fair was on display at the William Peter Boulevard, Castries, this week seeking to emphasise the critical importance of sustainable energy “for our lives, our environment and our shared future”.
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Transport, Physical Development and Urban Renewal organised the event.
It was part of the 20th edition of Energy Awareness Month and received support from major commercial entities and stakeholders.
The 2023 Energy Awareness Month theme is: Get Involved, Renewable, Resilient, Affordable, Clean Energy for the Future.
Minister with responsibility for Urban Renewal, Stephenson King underlined the significance of the occasion.
He said it was a “significant milestone”, exemplifying a collective dedication and tireless efforts to advance sustainable energy practices.
“This visionary framework charts the bold course for our energy sector, placing paramount importance on cost efficiency, local empowerment and security,” said King, as he referred to the recent National Energy Policy.
He said this transition ranges from reliability and inclusivity to affordability and resilience.
The minister urged Saint Lucians “to seize the burgeoning opportunities emerging from our evolving energy landscape”.
Due to the extenuating economic global factors that impede the country’s productivity, King added, there must be “an unconventional approach to energy security, one that requires
innovation, capacity building, adaptation and adaptability and a steadfast commitment to sustainability.”
“The blueprint for Energy Independence as articulated in the updated policy demands a holistic cross-sectorial strategy,” he stressed.
King said it was important to engender partnerships “between the
government, civil society and the private sector to forge a sustainable path forward”.
“It’s only through this cooperative endeavour that we can truly
unlock the full potential of our energy resources ensuring a
future that is not only environmentally sustainable, but
economically prosperous and socially inclusive,” he added.
The minister acknowledged the input of the private sector’s exceptional contribution “in propelling innovation in Saint Lucia’s energy sector.”
Minister for Commerce Emma Hippolyte noted that energy costs are among the highest “operational expenses” in the region.
She acknowledged the recent pronouncement that the “state -imposed cap” on solar energy consumption has risen.
“While manufacturers recognise the benefits to be derived from making that transition to cleaner energy sources, such as solar power, they insist that the state-imposed cap rendered minimum cost savings,” she added.
“For business that have taken the bold step to ‘solarizing’ their operations and continue to lobby in this regard, consultation with the National Utilities Regulatory Commission (NURC) are still ongoing to increase the cap, sooner rather than later,” she said.
The minister asserted that the department’s Public Education Campaigns are geared to encourage energy conservation “and the transition to renewable energy.”
The intention is to “reduce operational expenses by lowering electricity costs to businesses and consumers alike, while ensuring a safe and healthy environment for all,” she explained.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Department of Infrastructure, Ports and Transport Lenita Joseph noted that “our economy and society are built on a foundation of reliable and affordable energy.”
Nonetheless, she said, the nation’s current energy system is unsustainable, and the heavy reliance on imported fuels exposes the country to volatile oil prices and contributes to pollution and climate change.
“This is a threat to our economic security, our health, and our way of life,” declared Joseph.
She said sustainable energy is “energy that meets our needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
“Renewable energy sources are abundant and reliable and they do not produce Green-house Gas Emissions,” said Joseph.
“Energy efficiency and conservation measures can help us to reduce our energy consumption and save money,” she noted.