Submitted by Beresford
Cahill Energy (Barbados) unwittingly flung the cat among the pigeons at their Community Meeting this week in a most unexpected way. Apart from their woefully inadequate response to clearly well informed citizens, they exposed the weakness and confusion in the Government’s energy policy.
National energy security is not about creating a legacy for somebody. Neither is it something that should be bought from or sold to the highest bidder. A national energy policy for Barbados should consider reliability, cost and sustainability. It should provide certainty for suppliers, distributors and consumers through a transparent legal framework and clear policy directives.
What have we seen in recent times under the DLP Administration? First the reintroduction of a virtual monopoly in petroleum distribution by The Sol Group, which will culminate in the purchase of the Barbados National Terminal Co. in a private deal that was not subject to open bids. Nobody knows what benefits will accrue to the state from this sale or what agreements will bind the Government going forward.
The government has flattered to deceive in the renewable energy sector. It first encouraged Barbadian entrepreneurs and householders to get into solar voltaic energy and then not only taxed them for their efforts, but also neglected to put the requisite system in place to allow them to license and therefore operate their systems. The result was the cancellation of some multi-million dollar orders, with the ensuing loss of investment, jobs and longer term saving of foreign exchange on imported energy.
After all the brouhaha about green energy, which was really only a rebranding of the BLP’s Green Economy, we endured a very public spat between the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Finance about the financing of a new $500 million sugar factory which would double as a significant producer of renewable energy via the cane industry.
Those of us old enough to remember will know that this policy of feeding excess electricity to the national grid and the manufacture of chipboard from bagasse was championed by Tom Adams Administration way back in the first half of the 1980’s and abandoned when the DLP returned to office in 1986. There is really very little new under the sun.
The Minister of Finance had no problem however in siding with the Ministers of Energy and the Environment in accepting the unsolicited Cahill waste to energy proposal that will see Government buying electricity for 45 cents a kilowatt against the 19 cents it is presently costing the Barbados Light & Power. Guess who will have to pay for the difference? Four DLP Ministers have indebted us to the tune of $4.3 billion over the next 30 years, by which time they will have ridden off into the sunset and been drawing their pensions for over two decades.
Can anybody in this ragtag Cabinet tell the people of Barbados why they have lagged for six months on a proposal by Deltro Electric of Canada to set up a $150 million solar energy farm with a jump start of $40 million from the Canadian government? Is it because the deal with Cahill is in some way sweeter?
It is clear there needs to be a coordinated national energy policy fit for the 21st century that all the stakeholders, including consumers, are acquainted with. This ad hoc ‘every man for himself’ approach is not good for the country and will likely result in wasting or duplicating precious resources.
The family of the Barbados Labour Party extends our sincere sympathy to the family of Lady Springer, much loved widow of one of our founding fathers and national hero, Sir Hugh Springer.