News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Jan. 27, 2015: The U.S. government on Monday pledged to support the transformation of the Caribbean’s energy systems, a concern now given the region’s dependence on oil shipments from Venezuela.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, addressing Caribbean leaders and officials at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington, said the time was to boost alternative sources of energy, such as solar, and to decrease reliance on oil.
But he told those gathered they must first deal with corruption. “First and foremost, you have to deal with corruption,” he said. “You need to be choosing projects because they are the most competitive, not for other reasons.”
If that happens, Biden said, the United States was prepared to help.
“I guarantee you we will do our part,” he said. “And we can afford it. But we’re not going to waste money. We’re going to insist on considerably more transparency, greater coordination and changes in regulations. We’re not here to replace one flawed financing scheme with another.”
The Caribbean heads of state and officials in attendance for their part pledged to support policy and regulatory environments that facilitate the introduction of new technologies favoring sustainable and clean energy that provide legal certainty for investors and improved predictability in price and supply for users.
They also agreed to where technically and commercially feasible, promote and develop affordable: no- or lower carbon electricity generation through wind, solar, geothermal power, hydro-power, bio-energy, ocean energy, energy recovery from waste, and other clean energies; and energy efficiency measures.
And to open, transparent, competitive and criteria-based processes, including liberalization where cost effective, to procure energy investment and facilitate access to finance for cleaner and climate resilient energy projects and infrastructure.
The Vice President, US Secretary of Energy Moniz, other senior Administration officials, Prime Minister Perry Christie from The Bahamas, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller from Jamaica, Prime Minister Michiel G. Eman of Aruba, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony of St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persd-Bissessar, Guyana’s Prime Minister Sam Hinds, Antigua & Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne and representatives from Curacao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Grenada, Haiti, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, the Caribbean Development Bank, the European Union, Inter-American Development Bank Group, the International Renewable Energy Agency, Organization of American States, and the World Bank Group multilateral development banks, and other international partners participated in the Caribbean Energy Security Summit and pledged to work together in support of Caribbean energy security.
The World Bank presented a proposal to create a Caribbean Energy Investment Network to improve coordination and communication among development partners and to empower Caribbean nations to direct and align external support with their own national goals. Governments and multilateral development partners welcomed the proposal as an initial step to a build upon existing efforts to improve the effectiveness of donor-supported energy programs.
At the Summit, cohosted by the Department of State, the Council of the Americas, and the Atlantic Council, partner countries discussed comprehensive energy diversification strategies, such as the U.S.-Grenada pilot program that was launched in September, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on August 27, 2014. This program is based on a model that was successfully implemented in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Hawaii and that seeks to identify tailored, comprehensive energy solutions for island jurisdictions.
The United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) said it will intensify its focus on developing clean energy projects in the Caribbean. OPIC and the Department of State have identified a team with specific responsibility for identifying and arranging financing for Caribbean projects. OPIC announced January 26 it will disburse the first tranche of approximately $43 million in financing for Blue Mountain Renewables’ 34 MW wind project in Jamaica. When construction begins in June, this project will be a tangible example of public and private sectors in both countries working in harmony—and nearly $90 million of investment in Jamaica’s economy, which also will ease Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuels.