News Release: Hamilton, Bermuda – Late last year the Minister of Home Affairs, Walter Roban visited Barbados and Jamaica to see what strides some of our Caribbean counterparts are making with regards to the sustainable consumption and generation of energy.
This meeting precipitated several initiatives which are currently underway at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The Minister was accompanied on the overseas visit by Director of Energy Jeane Nikolai, CEO of the Bermuda Regulatory Authority Denton Williams and Bermuda Business Development Agency Infrastructure Manager Kyle James.
While in Barbados, the Bermuda contingent met with members of their Government’s Energy Department as well as the Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, MP. They also met with the Fair Trade Commission and Ms Loreto Duffy-Mayers, Project Lead of the Caribbean Cooling Initiative, and visited Caribbean LED Lighting, Ltd.
While in Jamaica, they visited the Office of Utility Regulation (OUR) where they met with the company’s Director General Mr. Ansord Hewitt as well as the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Ms Fayval Williams and Principal Director of Energy Mr. Fitzroy Vidal. They also visited Wigton Wind Farm – the region’s first utility-scale wind farm and the largest.
“During our trip to the Caribbean we saw lots of exciting things happening in the field of energy,” said Minister Roban. “The purpose of the trip was to learn more about the mechanisms and systems in place that create an enabling environment for advances in renewable energy, such as wider electric vehicle adoption, solar photovoltaic developments, and energy efficiency measures.
“Some of those initiatives we know we can reformulate for Bermuda which will result in the creation of new jobs in the energy market, diversification of the energy grid, and bring investment to the island.”
One of the initiatives the Ministry is currently working on is the Smart Fund Project.
“We are looking at developing a smart fund to help support the incorporation of renewable technology in the local community, for the average homeowner,” explained Minister Roban. “We saw a similar programme operating in Barbados with great success. We are looking to Bermudianize that model and bring renewables to our residents at an affordable price-point.
“We are committed to lowering the cost of energy for residents and one of the ways we think we can do this is by making it more affordable for average homeowners to implement renewables in their homes along with conservation and efficiency measures.”
Minister Roban revealed that Bermuda is also looking to create training opportunities for Bermudians in the renewable energy industry.
“We want to create training opportunities which will allow more people to participate in the installation of renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels,” said Minister Roban. “Again, we saw this strategy implemented successfully in Barbados.
“Another thing which struck me while in Barbados, was the proliferation of charging stations throughout the island…they had more charging stations than gas stations! I really believe that we could make significant strides towards cleaner transport if we make the appropriate grid enhancements.
“The Government is also looking at potential partnerships between the public and private sectors in order to expand renewable energy deployment on a commercial scale, which we also saw being done in Barbados. Specifically, we visited a local farm where its entire irrigation system was powered by solar.”
The Ministry is also in the process of creating a regulatory sandbox that would allow for Bermuda to benefit from innovative technology in the energy sector.
“The ‘Sandbox Concept’ is a legislative framework which is being worked on by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” said Minister Roban. “The framework will allow companies wishing to test large scale renewable technologies such as wind and wave, many of which aren’t on the market to date. The current legislation does not allow non-commercial technology to be incorporated into the energy technologies mix.
“New technologies provide new opportunities for new types of jobs. They also could potentially result in a cleaner environment, less money being spent on fossil fuels and diversification of the grid.”
The Government is also looking at setting up an Energy Working Group. This group would include key people in Bermuda’s renewable energy sector who would provide advice to the Government of Bermuda regarding renewable energy. The working group would be loosely modelled off Jamaica’s Energy Council.
“It is important that Government work together with those in Bermuda’s renewable energy sector,” said Minister Roban.
“Going forward, we hope to be able to further leverage the strong ties we have in the Caribbean region to work on the common challenges we all face as islands, regarding energy.
“We have a vision to move us from being an island with one producer of energy to one with thousands of producers of energy; to create an environment where energy independence is possible.
“Bermuda has the potential to be a showpiece of conservation and efficiency.”
- Photos include: Minister Roban during a site visit for a solar installation at Barbados Agriculture Development Marketing Corporation (BADMC), Fairy Valley, Christ Church & the Minister speaking at a meeting of the Jamaica Energy Council