A More Sustainable and Energetically Safer Caribbean

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Following up on the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) launched in June 2014, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz convened a meeting in Washington with Caribbean heads of state and senior officials, and with international funding institutions to discuss the Caribbean region’s energy security. At the Summit, Vice President Biden stressed that “Seeing the Caribbean succeed as prosperous, secure, and energy independent neighbours and not as a world apart, become an integral part of the hemisphere where all countries are democratic, safe and average class, falls within the United States deep interest.”

The Summit highlighted the ongoing efforts within CESI, including support towards improving governance, access to funding, and greater donor coordination. Caribbean leaders highlighted the goals of their national energy sectors and gave their opinion on how the United States Government and other key allies can more effectively support the region in the search for alternative energy sources. Caribbean representatives agreed to continue with the implementation of comprehensive programs for energy diversification, including actions to facilitate the introduction of cleaner forms of energy.

The Summit sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Council of the Americas, and the Atlantic Council invited participating countries to discuss comprehensive strategies for energy diversification, including the pilot program between the U.S. and Grenada, launched in September, after the Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the two countries in August 2014. This program is based on a model that was successfully applied in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Hawaii, which objective was to identify comprehensive energy solutions to island jurisdictions, based on their local context.

Additionally, the U.S. government will continue to support programs of technical assistance and capacity building in the Caribbean under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) and other cooperation mechanisms, including those coordinated by the OAS.

The OAS, with financial assistance from the Department of State is supporting Trinidad and Tobago in the implementation of a pilot project in Closed Loop Cycle Production, which seeks to promote cleaner production methods among small businesses nationwide. Additionally, the Department of State, is promoting clean energy and efficiency in Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic through the OAS Sustainable Communities Initiative for Central America and the Caribbean.

The OAS is also canalizing regional technical cooperation on renewable energy and measurements such as air quality and greenhouse gases through the Inter-American Metrology System. All these initiatives belong to the ECPA and are implemented by the Department for Sustainable Development, the OAS technical arm for environmental issues.

Vice President Biden also informed the present leaders that one of the reasons for the realization of this Summit was to help create the appropriate conditions for Caribbean countries to attract private sector investment. Among the initiatives to be undertaken in the region, excels the one announced by the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), who is intensifying its focus on developing clean energy projects in the Caribbean. OPIC also announced the distributing of nearly $43 million to finance the 34-megawatt wind project “Blue Mountain Renewables” in Jamaica.

“When construction begins in June, this project will be a tangible example of the harmonious work of the public and private sectors in both countries; and of almost $90 million invested in Jamaica’s economy, which will also lower Jamaica’s fossil fuel dependence”, according to the White House.