At the OAS country office in Georgetown, Guyana, air conditioning is a year-round necessity that accounts for a large part of an electric bill of close to $300 per month.
“The AC units draw a lot of power. They are on all day long, practically,” said Jean Ricot Dormeus, who represents the OAS in Guyana.
The expense of cooling and lighting the office will soon be minimal. The local electric utility, Guyana Power & Light (GPL), plans to install solar panels on the roof of the three-story building that the OAS and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) lease from the Guyana Ministry of Agriculture.
GPL will install and maintain the solar panels, as a pilot project to expand into “integrated utility services” based on renewable energy, according to GPL Legal Officer Nadia Samuels. Solar energy is hardly new to Guyana, but the government-owned utility, which generates power primarily from heavy fuel oil, is just beginning to venture into the field.
The OAS-IICA project falls under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the organizations signed in April with GPL. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) helped put the agreement together.
Under their three-year partnership, the parties will seek additional opportunities for cooperation. This could include, for example, inviting GPL to participate in OAS meetings on renewable energy, according to Dormeus.
He hopes the upcoming solar project will “blaze the trail” for other OAS country offices to take similar steps. The OAS, through its Department of Sustainable Development, has long promoted renewable energy throughout the region as a path to greater development, he noted.