The Department of Energy held the 2018 Energy Summit at the Hamilton Princess Hotel this week.

Under the theme of ‘Toward a Resilient Bermuda’,  the Summit was held in observance of CARICOM Energy Month, which is November.

Present at the Summit were members of Government, representatives of industry and business and participants in the energy sector both in Bermuda and abroad.

Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban delivered the welcoming remarks.

CARICOM used to observe only ‘Energy Week’ – a single week in the year – but it changed to span an entire month because energy matters are among the central most important issues facing our region today,” said Minister Roban. 

“Apart from the theme of the Summit, which is Toward a Resilient Bermuda, we hope to strengthen our ties with the region.

“Just as for our Caribbean neighbours, energy is one of our single largest costs, individually and commercially, and we, as Government, remain committed to ensuring that costs are kept as low as possible while protecting our standard of service and our environment.  We realize that what is better for our planet is also better for our people.  Where we are challenged is with costs – present and future, tangible and more abstract.  We can, will, and must do better.

“Resilience is the overriding theme of today’s Summit, and we believe that ‘resilience’ is too often narrowly defined as simply how quickly we bounce back after natural disasters like hurricanes.  Resilience is a much broader issue. Resilience means how well-prepared we are for disruptions, how well our infrastructure anticipates those disruptions and how well our society copes with those.  Resilience means doing what we can to eliminate single points of failure.  In other words, one of the actions that helps is diversifying our energy mix, and today you will see what we are doing to develop utility scale solar PV in Bermuda – and this is right here and right now, not pie-in-the sky.  Resilience means taking up the baton of sustainability.  Sustainability is not a fashion or a fad, but it is a different way of doing things – of building, of consuming, of looking for ways to meet the needs of the present without compromising our children’s future.”

Keynote Speaker Former Prime Minister of Aruba Mr. Mike Eman then spoke about how momentum was built for successful energy initiatives in Aruba, and how those were grown out of a sincere care for the community, rather than as simply another box that needed to be ticked.  His address was inspiring to the audience and, together with Minister Roban’s remarks, set the tone for the day. 

 The first panel of the day was called “Regional Updates and Lessons Learned”, moderated by Justin Locke of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and included discussions around the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and how countries that were quite devastated, like BVI and Turks and Caicos, rebounded from those.  Also discussed in this panel were the lessons learned from those experiences. 

Panel 2 was called, “Decentralizing Generation: The 6MW Solar Farm at the LF Wade International Airport”, moderated by Energy Policy Analyst for Bermuda’s Department of Energy Aran McKittrick. It detailed how the Solar Farm was procured, the process and considerations of building such a project in Bermuda, and the unique challenges of that particular site.

Panel 3 “No Risk, No Reward: Sustainability that contributes to Resilience” was moderated by OBMI Director of Sustainability Denaye Hinds, a Bermudian whose practice is based in Miami.  Her panel focused on principles of sustainability and how they could be applied to make institutions and developments more resilient, not only environmentally but also economically-speaking. 

There was a discussion about  “Emerging Technology: Blockchain in the Energy Sector” which was moderated byHead of the Fintech Business Unit Wayne Smith where panellists helped demystify Blockchain and discussed its applications in the energy sector, making the transactions between ‘prosumers’ (those consumers who produce energy as well) easier, more accurate, and faster. 

Panel 4 “Regulation in the Face of Disruption” was moderated by Deputy Chairman of the Utility Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) Mr. J. Paul Morgan. It addressed some ways in which utility regulators dealt with the challenges of regulating in an ever-changing environment where disruptions – due to natural disasters, sudden shifts in policy, and technological advances – are presented often and have real cost impacts to the customer. 

And, lastly, Panel 5, moderated by the Director of the Bermuda Department of Energy Jeane Nikolai, contained a summary of the day’s discussions, and the key takeaways. 

Director Nikolai said, “The key takeaway for me was that our reality in a small island is that there are no ‘others’ in the energy landscape, only ‘us’.  And so we need to seek collaboration in all things, and find the answers to our energy challenges together.” 

  • Photos Courtesy of DCI