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Vanterpool: "Think outside the box"

BVI News Staff - Monday, April 2nd, 2012 at 11:02 AM

The minister noted that the airport in St. Thomas is almost fully powered by solar energy.

The pursuit of alternative energy for the territory is a key focus of Minister for Communications and Works Mark Vanterpool  who has announced that government is trying to find renewable energy options to reduce the territory’s dependence on fossil fuel.

“We must not sit back and say wind energy is not an easy thing… We may not get there, and yes wind turbines are not attractive, but we have to decide between wind turbine and fossil fuel emitted in the air, which one has the most effect on us. They are both environmentally not great; one has a degradation effect on the atmosphere and one is not great to look at,” Vanterpool said during the budget debate in the House of Assembly on March 22.

He added: “We (government) have found every possible way of alternative energy to help us….. looking at giving incentive for individuals who are finding alternative ways to reduce energy…. I told the BVI Electricity Corporation to stop, halt and not keep running the way they are…. to think outside the box ….The ways are out there, we just haven’t stopped and looked at alternative ways.”

In recapping the steps that have been taken so far, Vanterpool disclosed: “I went to the southern side of Spain to a place called Seville. I wanted to understand what they are doing when it comes to wind and other alternative energy. The government of Spain gave to the private sector incentives for going into alternative energy and it gave way for investment… A percentage of their energy is provided by alternative energy and it is better for their pocket, and their environment. We here in the Virgin Islands have the sun’s rays all year round. The disadvantage we have is that we don’t have as much flat land, because solar requires a lot of flat land. We don’t have the immense requirement for energy like they have, but we have a lot of flat roofs.”

The minister noted that the airport in St. Thomas is almost fully powered by solar energy.

“What is wrong with copy-catting in a case like this?” he asked. “The administrative building has a large flat roof and that building costs us $900,000 a year to power up. What is stopping us from powering up the roof with solar power. The only problem is that it might leak and stop the solar panel. But you have to think outside the box,” Vanterpool said.

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13 Comments

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  1. Thetruth
    April 3, 2012
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    Good for Minister Vanterpool, hope he eventually could turn all these ideas into realities… But why did he went as far as Seville, Spain looking for all this when right here in our “Caribbean Back Yard” these kind of renewable energy initiatives are already happening? It takes just a short trip to USVI or to Puerto Rico and he will see exactly the same kind of things that he saw in Seville (probably not as big but certainly better adapted to our tropic conditions) Going even farther, the small (tiny)island of Bonaire will be very soon a totally energy independent territory, capable to produce 100% of their power demand by the inclusion of these kind of systems, becoming the first detached territory “IN THE WORLD” to be “Unplugged” (today they are connected to Curacao) Last but not least, the largest Spaniard photovoltaic panels company, beginning this year (2012) will start manufacturing almost 80% of their entire production in Puerto Rico, just 40 minutes away from Beef Island. Anyhow, relax, there is no reason to be ashamed, all of the above is true, but it is also new to me… Funny sometimes our little Caribbean take us by surprise.

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  2. Rays Solution2
    April 2, 2012
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    Ray, this thing is a “no brainer”. Here in CA I went Solar a year ago. With Federal rebates (that money goes to the vendor) it did not cost me a cent. Now, I sit with one constant bill for the next 20 years by contract. If I sell, the system can be taken over by a buyer. We used a
    Company called Sun Run Solar and they are solar(ing) like mad out here. Each day, it seems, I can find another home with the panels on the roof! This is one of the few ways a consumer can get some control over his monthly costs of living. He, then, can see his way clear to take on other committments resulting in a multiplier effect in the economy. Imagine, just getting
    10-20% of roof tops in the BVI on solar!

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    • Thetruth
      April 3, 2012
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      Ray I have been following your arguments and I must say that you are a “clear mind”, thakyou for sharing your experience on this matter with us… Evidently, what we need over here is a “Net Metering” law is happening already in USVI and in Puerto Rico where combined with some basic tax incentives, like in the rest of USA are facilitating the inclusion of these kind of renewable energy systems (photovoltaic panels and air turbines) in a clearly significant way.

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  3. bam see
    April 2, 2012
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    these things will work fine but dont forget that we get hurricanes every year

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  4. Rays Solution
    April 2, 2012
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    Rays comments says it all – this is the real deal as to what should be done with this program. If more staffing is needed to implement, you can consider hiring Ray..!

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    • Ray
      April 2, 2012
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      Thanks for the vote of confidence my friend. While I have a very good understanding of the issues and the various alternative technologies after having implemented various types about several of my properties elsewhere where there are no barriers to their use, I would not consider myself an expert in the field to serve in such a capacity. But again, thanks.

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  5. Ray
    April 2, 2012
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    They certainly need to “think outside the box”. And to assist them, any legislation that forbids homeowners & businesses from utilizing alternative energy should be outlawed. Additionally, the government should take steps to provide incentives to those who wish to utilize such alternative energy sources.

    What steps? If you take a look around the globe where alternative energy is being increasingly used, governments provide tax incentives to assist those who wish to utilize such alternative energy sources because the initial upfront investment is costly at the moment. The initial costly start up cost is primarily due to the technologies being new and in lower demand.

    The demand for such alternative energy sources is lower primarily because most developed and developing countries depend on fossil fuel driven power plants or nuclear energy. Savings are realized over time. With the current increase in oil, alternative energy sources will be more and more attractive. At any rate, in our case, a good place to start would be to lower/eliminate all tariffs (i.e. custom duty fees) on imported alternative energy materials and equipment.

    Since electricity cannot be stored, excess combined energy generated from these sources beyond a particular need can be sold to the government via integration into the power grid which will decrease the need for the fossil fuel currently being used to operate the B.V.I, Electric plant, decrease the amount of money being spent to obtain that fuel, and ultimately save money which should be the goal. In this way not only is money being saved by both consumers and the government, but the alternative energy created will be as reliable, certainly renewable, & clean for the environment. It’s a win-win win proposition unless of course the B.V.I. Electricity Corp prefers to see profits over reliability, increased cost, and the environment.

    Clearly, what is needed here is more action and less talk, and a person(s )who is in a position to visualize and plan a course forward, and put it into action. Is the good minister that person?

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    • Interesting
      April 2, 2012
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      @ Ray, you are right on track. I do not know if this administration has a strategic plan in place for this beside the bullet points in their manifesto. There is much talk but we will see how much action. During the campaign for the last general elections there were two in particular I saw who spent much time on this troubling issue, the PPA and Stoutt: http://www.stouttforbvi.com/issues/#environment

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      • Ray
        April 2, 2012
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        Agree. Both Preston & the PPA addressed the issue quite well during the recent election. I think our countys’ long term interest could be better served if an alternative energy program would be adopted & encouraged.

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  6. My $0.02
    April 2, 2012
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    Here is thinking outside the box.

    How about allowing the consumer to decide how he/she wants to have their building powered instead of relying on the Government and BVIEC?
    That way the consumer and not the tax payers will bear the costs of purchasing, installation and maintenance of their equipment and if they are ambitious sell their excess power generated back into the grid.
    This of course would require that the Government would fianlly have to change it’s legislature freeing us from being dependent on the BVIEC as our primary source of electricity.

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  7. April 2, 2012
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    Sharon – wind mills are used for milling – i.e. the do not produce energy for electricity. As for solar we simply do not have the available flat land to have a viable commercial solar farm. As for wind turbines, there are developments in the pipeline whereby these wind turbines in the future will be tethered to the ground and helium filled “pods” will rise to about 1000 feet (304 m) where the wind speeds are more stable/consistent and produce much more energy. So stay tuned!

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  8. April 2, 2012
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    I believe solar energy and wind are the best alternative for thinking outside of the box. I personally don’t have a problem with finding wind mills unattractive. Take for instance, Necker Island, the most beautiful island in BVI,I can say this because I have been there, uses wind power. People pay top $$ to stay & visit. I don’t see anyone saying. It’s unattractive! I say use wind :-D

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