Government is hoping to shave $2 – 3 million off the country’s electricity bill annually with the implementation of its US$24.6 million Public Sector Smart Energy Programme (PSPP).
On Friday the Ministry of Energy and the Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) paved the way for the programme to go ahead, which will include the changing out of close to 30,000 street lights across the country.
The project, which is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the European Union, is designed to reduce electricity consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving down government’s fuel import bill.
Officials of the BL&P are expected to embark on a procurement process “very soon” to source the Light Emitting Diode (LED) fixtures.
The overall project will also provide for the retrofitting of about 13 Government buildings and use of more electric vehicles.
So far Government has two electric vehicles as part of a pilot project and is expected to procure about six more by the end of this year.
Minister with responsibility for Energy Senator Darcy Boyce said based on a 2009 study, Government is aiming for a 29 per cent per year reduction in electricity consumption through various methods of renewable energy use and energy efficiency.
Boyce said he would soon be going back to the IDB for more funding for a second programme he is hoping to sign off on by the end of this year, to effect greater energy efficiency.
Acknowledging that government is a significant user of electricity, Boyce said the street lamps account for a great portion of that usage.
“So this project will save us a couple million dollars a year [up to] $3 million a year. It is a small amount in the context of Barbados but it is a start to save some money. When that is combined with the work to retrofit the 13 Government buildings with solar photovoltaic it begins to add,” he said.
Boyce urged the officials involved in the programme to “keep the momentum going”, adding that it’s his intention for the country to reach a 100 per cent reliance on renewable energy by 2045 as outlined in the BL&P 100/100 Vision.
Boyce also noted that Government would be expanding the efforts to the transportation system.
Head of Green Economy and Resilience Section of the EU Peter Sturesson urged officials to take even further steps to focus on energy efficiency, pointing out that this is a critical aspect if the country is to save foreign exchange.
“Of course we must embrace the role of energy efficiency in this master plan because this is one of the low hanging fruits for Barbados in the transition to clean energy,” he said.
Pointing out that the project marked “yet another milestone” in Barbados’ development, Sturesson added that the EU remains committed to helping the island fund developmental projects.
Meanwhile, Representative of the IDB Juan Carlos De La Hoz Viñas predicted that by obtaining lower electricity cost the country would improve its competitiveness.
“We all know that as part of the conversation with the private sector that electricity cost is a major problem in terms of doing business in this country. So every attempt to reduce the electricity cost will improve competitiveness in the country,” he said.
Managing Director of the BL&P Roger Blackman said the country has the opportunity to become the leader in the area of renewable energy usage in the region.
He pledged continued support of the utility company in finding the requisite solutions to ensure the sector was expanded.