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Help residents get solar panels, Skelton urges gov’t

Minister of Health and Social Security Ronnie Skelton. File photo

The government has urged residents to invest in solar panels for their homes, but the minister of health and social development is suggesting that Government should help the poorer residents purchase the solar panels.

“There are quite a number of less fortunate people out there and, to ask them to choose between going green and buying medication or feeding their children – the government has to get involved and give out some of these stuff as grants,” Skelton said.

The ‘solar panel’ discussion returned to the fore during a town hall radio broadcast this week while residents continue to ponder their sources of energy after hurricane Irma caused significant damage to electricity infrastructure, leaving virtually the entire territory still without power.

Minister of Communication and Works Mark Vanterpool, who has responsibility for energy, noted that solar energy is an alternative to using fuel.

“We’ve been putting forward for some time now ideas around renewable energy, and everyone can do their part in trying to do that – solar panels [and] solar water heaters in your buildings and in your houses. Even in this time of the disaster, we’re trying to encourage people to bring in more solar activity,” Vanterpool said.

He further told residents: “If you at this stage can change your water heater to a solar water heater, it works well and you can reduce your dependence on diesel fuel or fossil fuels… Everyone must try to do their little part to try to reduce the carbon footprint out there in the world, and we in this small country should also.”

The government, in the meantime, blamed global warming as a major reason for the two category 5 hurricanes that devastated the British Virgin Islands (BVI) this month.

Global warming effectively is an increase in the earth’s temperature caused by an increase in the levels of carbon gases. Such gases are emitted from burning fuel.

Skelton noted that global warming affects small countries like the BVI more than others.

“The world is getting warmer and hurricanes thrive in warm temperatures, so we need to pay attention to it. The water is getting warmer. That’s why we got a Category 5,” Skelton said.

Another government minister, Myron Walwyn, weighed in on the discussion. He called on Caribbean countries to join the movement to tackle global warming.

“This needs to be something that all small island states particularly in the Caribbean can band together to get our voices out in terms of the effects that this is having on us,” he said.

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