18 September 2015

Transition to solar power for Cook Islands

3 News - News from New Zealand

Auckland, New Zealand

Just beside the Cook Islands' only international airport, there's a paddock full of solar panels.

It's something of a jarring sight - rows and rows of shiny black solar panels, 3000 in all, hemmed in by a wire fence, set against a backdrop of lush rainforest and towering, rocky outcrops.

The solar power plant - Te Mana o te Ra, meaning power from the sun - was built last year on one of the rare large flat areas of Rarotonga, with the help of $3.3 million of funding from New Zealand.

The plant churns out about a megawatt of energy in the middle of the day and it meets around five percent of Rarotonga's electricity demand.

It's designed for the unique conditions of Rarotonga, meaning it can withstand the odd tropical cyclone and the constant blast of jet engines.

It's another step towards the Cook Islands' goal of being powered entirely by renewable energy sources by 2020, having already hit the target of being 50 percent renewable by 2015.

New Zealand aid programme manager Joseph Mayhew says the switch to renewable energy sources has a host of benefits for the Cook Islands.

It reduces fuel bills - savings to the tune of about $500,000 a year - and reduces the Pacific nation's dependence on imported diesel and petroleum for electricity generation, he said.

That in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 1000 tonnes a year.

Mr Mayhew says New Zealand has also been instrumental in getting solar power to six of the more remote northern islands in the Cook group.

The $20m investment means the island of Pukapuka, which didn't have reticulated electricity previously, now has access to a modern amenity most take for granted.

Over the last three years, New Zealand has provided $78 million in aid to the Cook Islands.

Just over 40 per cent of that has been spent on infrastructure projects, including renewable energy, water supply and sanitation.

The New Zealand government is committing another $64m or so to a variety of projects over the next three years.

Turks & Caicos Freedom Fighter Joins the Ancestors

Prominent pastor found dead in Turks and Caicos Islands

Rev. Conrad Howell
Reverend Dr. Conrad Howell

Reverend Dr. Conrad Howell, a prominent pastor, talk-show host and author of the Turks and Caicos Islands' national song, was found dead early on Saturday September 12th, after his wife reported him missing on Thursday.

Howell's body was found in bushes near his home in Blue Mountain, Providenciales, following a massive search that was carried out by scores of residents and police. Foul play is suspected, police said.

Howell was last seen by his wife at their home sometime around midnight on Thursday September 10th, 2015. 

His wife told police she awoke around 2 a.m. and discovered that he was not at home.

In a Facebook post after he went missing, his wife Brikell Howell wrote: "It is out of character for reverend Conrad Howell not to be in contact with his family. Therefore the family is concerned that we have not seen him since last night. He was wearing a black pants, white singlet and socks. Should anyone see him or know of his whereabouts please contact the police or one of the family members."

Commenting on the tragic death, Premier, Hon. Dr. Rufus W. Ewing said, "Our nation has suffered a tremendous loss. Rev. Howell, as he was known to many, was a true patriot to our country and a soldier for our people. During his lifetime, he has made an invaluable contribution to the development of our society we are truly blessed to have known the late Rev. Dr. Conrad Howell and he will be greatly missed. As the host of the popular Radio Talk Show, Expressions, Rev. Howell also stirred dialogue and national debate on some of the most controversial topics of our time but one of Rev. Howell's most notable national accomplishments is the penning of the National Song This Land Of Ours."
- See more at: http://suntci.com/#sthash.nAnKfJnr.dpuf

Reverend Howell was a consistent presentor in proceedings of the United Nations Decolonisation Committee at its regional seminars in the Spring of each year, and its regular sessions each June. He had also was a consistent speaker to the United Nations Special Political and Decolonisation Committee, and  was an avid supporter of a robust role of the United Nations in the decolonisation of the Turks and Caicos Islands. He was expected to continue his advocacy work at the 2015 proceedings in October. His last U.N. statement can be read here

The struggle continues! May he rest well.