There is no doubt that the national momentum for the increased utilisation of renewable sources of energy in our daily power generation capacity is picking up. About that we should be proud.
But it is also clear that there is some disconnect between our talk and our actions. What’s clear is that Government is finally catching on to the idea of the need for a true across-the-board effort that will propel us ahead of our neighbours, and even some first world competitors; however, in many ways the enabling environment is not nearly as inspiring as it ought to be.
We don’t believe we can be very far off the mark, if we are off at all, when we say that local progress in the area of substituting renewable sources of energy for fossil fuels has been in spite of Government’s involvement as opposed to being because of the fore sight of our political leaders.
And in this current period of partisan political politics, where thin skin is increasingly becoming the most discernable identifying trait of politicians, we hasten to add that our position is no restricted to any one party. If the Barbados Labour Party had shown the will and foresight on a matter that should have engaged the national attention as early as a decade ago, we would be much closer to energy independence today. By the way, the same applies to food crop production in Barbados, but that is another topic.
One example of national sloth on this matter of alternative energy has to be the fact that the Barbados Light & Power Company has been toying with the issue of a wind farm for at least a decade, and today we can’t say that there is a firm date, or even a time frame for its coming into existence.
We don’t doubt that the issues raised by BL&P — which in all honesty has served Barbados well as an electricity providers for a century — on this project were not real, but we also cannot say that the huge profits generated by conventional power approaches would not have serve as a disincentive for being as proactive as they could have been.
In our view, movement in this area would have required an approach similar to that used by the Europeans and Americans to drive their automobile industries toward more fuel efficient cars — the imposition of standards and deadlines. The national interest required it.
Last week we saw the official launch of an photovoltaic initiative by Williams Industries, that if followed through could put Barbados well ahead of the competition, and with the right incentives make our manufacturing sector competitive again.
Given the huge slice of the price of every Barbadians produced good that rolls out of our factories, any move that cuts the cost of energy is a move in the right direction. We therefore tip our hat to Williams everGreen Ltd, and its chairman Ralph “Bizzy” Williams for leading from the front.
We also acknowledge Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Darcy Boyce, for giving the assurance that certain legislative impediments will be removed shortly — but must again add that if we were thinking ahead, our business community should have been catching up with the legislation rather than the other way around.
We sincerely hope that this road that we are now firmly on will quickly get that promised legislative paving so that our private sector can benefit from a smooth ride — even picking up speed. We also hope that those we elect to Parliament would also recognise that we are in a new age and that legislation no longer has a 50- or 100-year shelf life, and will therefore pledge to be always in tuned so that Parliament is used more for the creation of enlightened legislation and less for noisy, useless party-political nonsense.