Leader of Government Business in the Upper House Senator Maxine McClean has pointed out that a promise to search for alternative sources of energy featured prominently in the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) 2008 general election manifesto.
The Government Senator drew this to the attention of Barbadians today while introducing a resolution for the compulsory acquisition of 27.1 acres of land at Vaucluse, St Thomas, for Government’s green energy programme.
In an apparent attempt to refute her opponent’s claim that the administration’s deal with the Canadian company, Cahill Energy, for the construction of a waste to energy plant in Vaucluse, St Thomas lacked transparency, McClean told the Upper Chamber that on assuming office in 2008 the David Thompson administration had come to the conclusion that Barbados could not continue to rely exclusively on high-priced fossil fuel, hence the search for alternative sources of energy.
She pointed out that in 2013, the DLP promised in its manifesto to embark on a “renewable energy revolution” in an attempt to reduce the drain on the country’s foreign exchange.
Quoting from the 2013 election document, McClean, who is the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, noted that while there might have been a small drop in consumption between 2007 and 2011, this did not stop the country’s energy import bill from escalating from $456 million to $787 million over the same period.
She said the Freundel Stuart administration of 2013 had stressed that a renewable energy revolution would be the centrepiece of the new administration’s economic strategy.
McClean pointed out that the acquisition of the 27.1 acres of land at Vaucluse was sought for the implementation and execution of the Sanitation Service Authority’s green energy programme, something the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) has criticized as an underhand way of getting the Cahill project underway.
McClean recalled that in 1994 Barbados hosted the groundbreaking conference of small island developing states (SIDS) and highlighted to the world that countries like Barbados were particularly challenged by climate change.
She noted that a major contributing factor to climate change was the high use of fossil fuel by the major industrial nations.
“We are talking about a situation which we recognize there are many benefits to be derived from shifting our demand from fossil fuels and focusing on ways in which we can generate energy in ways that are environmentally friendly. We are also looking at managing the issue of solid waste in a way that is also beneficial,” McClean said.
In its 2008 election manifesto the DLP promised a “creative” energy policy which focused almost entirely on lowering energy costs by placing greater attention on solar.
One of the pledges was to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs from all Government buildings by 2010 and private households by 2012. The party promised at the time that all new Government or Government-related facilities would be fully fitted with solar electric systems.
However, in its 2013 election document, the party said it would “provide without charge the land and the garbage for a waste-to-energy plant” to generate electricity for sale to Barbados Light & Power and it would allow a private sector company, “through an appropriate bidding process”, to have access to the existing landfill mass to extract the landfill gas for the generation of electricity.