The development of renewable energy is crucial, but must be approached in a manner which does not disadvantage consumers or result in a rushed effort to achieve national objectives.

This point was underscored by Minister of Energy, Senator Darcy Boyce, as he addressed the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC)/World Bank Regulatory Forum at Hilton Barbados this morning.

With the event???s agenda focused on the development of legislation, regulation and generation for electric utilities, Senator Boyce observed that it would be important to ???hasten slowly??? towards renewable energy goals, which he acknowledged were in line with the energy security objectives of the Barbados Government.

?????? Almost all of our power is generated from imported oil products at very high foreign exchange costs to our economy, amounting to approximately BDS $400 million a year, or almost five percent of our country???s gross domestic product. We need to reduce that outflow of foreign exchange, particularly as we are a very open economy and it is becoming increasingly difficult to earn that foreign exchange to pay for imported fuel,??? he noted, added that adopting renewable energy could help stem the outflow of foreign exchange.

The Minister argued that the region???s current high electricity generating costs, which adversely affect the cost of living, could be ameliorated through responsible adoption of renewable energy. He added that the benefits would include emissions reduction; accessible cost-efficient energy; and the introduction of new types of employment in the renewable sector.

However, Senator Boyce was quick to point out that the introduction of renewable energy should not lead to a reduction in the stability of the electricity supply in the country. ???We have an enviable record of stability of supply of electricity and the integration of renewable energy should do nothing to damage that record???Additionally, we are not prepared to have renewable energy integrated into the country???s power system if the result will be higher prices to consumers of electricity,??? he stressed.

Development of legislation would also serve an integral role on the road toward renewable energy adoption, with the Energy Minister stating that ???Government has recently accepted what it believes to be a fair and workable revised draft of the Electric Light and Power Bill, 2013. But we have, out of an abundance of care, also decided and sent that revised draft to the utility, the regulator, the Barbados Renewable Energy Association and other current major and potential stakeholders in the emerging renewable energy generation industry. We are, therefore, open to receiving further suggestions for our consideration before we present a final draft to Parliament in October when the House of Assembly resumes after its summer recess.???

There was no room for error, Senator Boyce advised, acknowledging that ??????fumbles, missteps and tumbles will undermine the confidence of everyone in the power sector???.

He gave the assurance that Government would not ???let that happen, and so we will insist on the best regulation we get. To that end, Government is also seeking help from other governments that have gone this way before. So, we are better able to avoid making critical mistakes???Best practice regulation will help to guide us properly at this time.???

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