Thousands of Barbadians are taking advantage of a major renewable energy venture that has been financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to the tune of $20 million.
The Energy Smart Fund, which is administered by the Enterprise Growth Fund, provides subsidized loans to businesses to retrofit their buildings for energy efficient lighting, air conditioning and to install photovoltaic systems.
“I would say thousands of persons have actually benefited from this Smart Fund under the various initiatives. Under the loan facility, we have actually approved more than $12 million in loans so far,” Project Manager in the Division of Energy and Telecommunications Keisha Reid revealed in an interview with Barbados TODAY this morning.
Speaking on the sidelines of a sustainable energy investment programme workshop for business, agriculture and cottage industries at Savannah Hotel, Reid also disclosed that about 4,000 householders have so far received free LED energy-saving bulbs.
“And hundreds of Barbadians have received rebates of one kind or another under the pilot consumer facility. So thousands of Barbadians have benefited under the Smart Fund with the various mechanisms that exist,” she added.
The project manager said the Fund, which commenced operations two years ago, ends next year and the Government was now taking a second look at its future existence.
“The Fund comes to an end next year and the Government is reviewing the project to see how it has gone so far, and what are the benefits and what are the issues and what are the lessons learnt, to see if we can’t implement, and have a second installation of the programme, “she said.
Reid also noted that the campaign, aimed at encouraging greater use of renewable energy, energy efficiency and photovoltaic systems, will end in December.
“This PR campaign comes to an end in December; this is a pilot; the consultants will be reviewing what aspects of the programme worked and then the Division of Energy will be implementing the various aspects of the campaign as part of their course of action throughout the coming years.”
The Government official said public education and awareness was one component of the Smart Fund, which at today’s workshop, encouraged businesses to improve their energy usage and efficiency.
“We want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. So this programme is just one of the programmes the Government has implemented to encourage change,” Reid said.
On the sidelines of the same workshop, Investment Analyst with the Enterprise Growth Fund Debbie-Anne Jemmott told Barbados TODAY the Smart Fund had disbursed over $6 million in loans to the manufacturing, retail and tourism sectors.
Jemmott also echoed Reid’s sentiments that many Barbadians were taking advantage of the Energy Smart Fund. “We have projects available to households and funds available for businesses. Businesses can access technical assistance up to $40,000,” she said.