04 May 2012

Anguilla Chief Ministers speaks on sustainable development

CM's Speech notes at Anguilla Renewable Energy Integration Stakeholder Workshop


Speech by Anguilla's Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, 

Mr. Hubert Hughes

I adopt the protocol already established.

Firstly, let me extend a warm welcome, once again, to our visitors Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN), the sponsor of this project and CASTALIA Strategic Advisors, the contracted consultant , , who have come, on their second visit now, to assist us in this very important endeavour. 

I also acknowledge the important roles that the Anguilla Renewable Energy Office, ANGLEC, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Ministry of Infrastructure and other stakeholders are all playing to make this project a success. I give particular mention to HMG, who, through DFID, is providing funding for this project.

As Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism I have a vested interest in electricity not only in this project but in the entire electricity sector of Anguilla as a whole. Thus, it is with esteemed pleasure that I address you this morning on such an important and topical subject as Renewable Energy (RE).

The woes caused by the world’s financial and economic downturn coupled with the extremely high prices we have to pay for electricity in Anguilla have dealt a crippling blow to both our commercial and residential consumers alike. The situation has now reached untenable proportions and may be even described as approaching crisis levels when we consider the amount of businesses that are closing and households that are off the grid because they cannot afford to meet their obligations including paying their electricity bills.

My Government hear the cry of the people and is responding to that cry. We are pushing ahead as fast and as responsible as we can with this project which will put in place the legislative and regulatory framework to allow the integration of RE into our energy system, both at the utility and distributed levels. 

This should bring relief on two fronts as the utility would now be able to freely procure renewable energy plant and thus we should see a reduction in electricity prices as they switch to RE; and on the other hand, the small house-holder would now be able to procure RE plant and feed into the grid thus allowing him/her to reduce his/her electricity bill and at the same time sell excess generation back to Anglec. 

This will only be the beginning. It is a deliberate top priority policy decision of my Government to develop RE, as fast as we can, so as to provide further relief to electricity consumers in Anguilla. At present my Government is working on other initiatives whereby we are seeking Technical Assistance from the United Kingdom for the reform of the entire energy sector in Anguilla. 

At the same time we are also encouraging Anglec to forge ahead with the procurement of renewable energy plant, perhaps a 2 or 3 MW plant in the first instance and continued RE procurement thereafter.

Some of these initiatives will begin to bear fruit in the immediate term and as we put more initiatives in place we will see further benefits being realized by the use of renewables in Anguilla and hence a corresponding reduction in the cost of electricity; which the Minister for Energy will speak to in greater detail. Let me hasten to add that we must temper our expectations because, like everything else, these initiatives do take time to implement.

A policy priority of Government during this project is Improving Environmental Sustainability. This will seek to protect the local environment and this is vital since the environment is essential to our bread basket, the tourism industry, and thus the economy of Anguilla. As Minister with responsibility for Tourism this is of particular interest to me.

Anguilla’s impact on the global environment by its emission of greenhouse gases through the use of fossil fuel is minimal. However, it will suffer disproportionally more than large emitters from the effects of climate change since it is a small, low lying island, in the Caribbean. It can become exposed to increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes due to increase climate variability. It would be more equitable for the largest polluters to pay to mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions, and help the developing countries become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

RE Integration can help reduce both local and global environmental impacts by lowering greenhouse emissions. However, there is a trade-off to make regarding how much RE to integrate to protect the environment, and the costs of integration. Investing in economically viable RE technologies can both mitigate impacts and lower costs. Once all of the viable RE investments have been made, achieving larger reductions in emissions will require the integration of additional RE projects that are more expensive at this time than conventional generation. This would lead to increased electricity costs that would be passed on to the end consumer in the form of higher electricity prices. Thus, for global environmental sustainability, Anguilla’s objective will be to pursue greenhouse gas abatement options as long as they are least cost, that is, they reduce the cost of electricity to the country as a whole. 

This then becomes the threshold at which Anguilla will have to leverage the larger countries and foundations for help with climate change mitigation.

Once again I extend a warm welcome to all and look forward to a very successful Renewable Energy Stakeholder Workshop.