In response to the recently announced Budgetary Proposals, the Future Centre Trust welcomes the further development of Alternative Energy frameworks and Energy Efficiency programmes. For a true reduction on global oil dependency and it’s subsequent impacts to our environment, a long term investment and vision from the government is needed.
In June 2010, the Government of Barbados approached the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for financing to the tune of USD45 million to assist in the development of the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation sectors and their frameworks. In Tuesday evening’s presentation, it was explained that indeed there is another USD75 million that will be borrowed to “execute the preparation of renewable and energy efficiency policies through the necessary legislation.” With these loans now underway and in final negotiations respectively, it seemed only fitting that in these Budgetary Proposals announced on Tuesday evening, that the Government make high reference to the Energy Sector.
The inclusion of the draft energy policy and legislation to be tabled in the coming weeks and months are not only requirements for the loan/s, but are absolutely necessary for an industry which has such high growth potential for the country and the region. This legislation will provide the frameworks to assist in the generation and sale of alternative energy back to the grid at one end of the scale, but will also provide training and employment opportunities for individuals looking to embark into entrepreneurial activities in a Green Economy.
With reference to the increase in Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Reduction to $10,000 per year for individuals and $25,000 per year for registered small businesses, we are awaiting the confirmation of the maximum number of years this rebate is permitted. This level of support assuming the rebate extends to a maximum of five years as was previous, will certainly assist in the supply and installation of alternative energy systems to a larger populous – particularly if the enabling legislative framework supports the industry.
We never like to see increase in prices, however we are pleased to see the removal of the Duty Free Concessions on Electric Hot Water Systems for the hotel and manufacturing sectors. This is one price rise that will be reclaimed over time with the savings earned from solar hot water systems outweighing the initial supply cost for electric systems – in the long term providing environmental and economic benefits.
We also recognise the payment of a one off grant to the vulnerable sectors of the community. There would be a question here as to the payment method of these funds. Although funds will be allocated to be dispersed through the Welfare Department, we would like to see some measure of guarantee that this allocation of public funding will go towards the individuals BL&P bill. Is the welfare department permitted to have these funds directly allocated to the individual’s bill?
Farmers will benefit somewhat from having access to an additional $5,000 rebate for retrofitting livestock housing with solar energy. For basic installations this may be suitable, however in reality much more funding would be required in order to make a serious reduction on the energy bills of the agriculture sector.
All being well the savings gained from such a focus on policy and legislation as a requirement of the IDB loan, coupled with encouraging the purchase and installation of Renewable Energy sources by the people of Barbados, and encouraging Energy Efficiency and Conservation, the government will be able to furnish the repayments of the loans for BB$240 million in good time. These savings will then also provide improvements to other areas of our social development in the future. Less spending on oil and more spending on people and the development of a sustainable environment for the generations to come.
This is the goal, isn’t it?