CARIBBEAN/WASHINGTON DC - In follow-up to the launch of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative (CESI) in June 2014, the Vice President, Secretary of Energy Moniz, other senior Administration officials, Caribbean Heads of Government, multilateral development banks, and other international partners participated in the Caribbean Energy Security Summit January 26 in Washington, D.C. to work together in support of Caribbean energy security.
The Summit highlighted ongoing efforts under the CESI, including support for improved governance, enhanced access to finance, and increased donor coordination. Caribbean leaders highlighted goals for their energy sectors and discussed how the United States and other partners can better support the Caribbean in pursuit of alternative sources of energy. Caribbean leaders agreed to pursue comprehensive energy diversification programs, including actions to facilitate the introduction of cleaner forms of energy.
The World Bank presented a proposal to create a Caribbean Energy Investment Network to improve coordination and communication among development partners and to empower Caribbean nations to direct and align external support with their own national goals. Governments and multilateral development partners welcomed the proposal as an initial step to a build upon existing efforts to improve the effectiveness of donor-supported energy programs.
At the Summit, co-hosted by the Department of State, the Council of the Americas, and the Atlantic Council, partner countries discussed comprehensive energy diversification strategies, such as the U.S.-Grenada pilot program that was launched in September, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries on August 27, 2014. This program is based on a model that was successfully implemented in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) and Hawaii and that seeks to identify tailored, comprehensive energy solutions for island jurisdictions.
The United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) will intensify its focus on developing clean energy projects in the Caribbean. OPIC and the Department of State have identified a team with specific responsibility for identifying and arranging financing for Caribbean projects. OPIC announced January 26 it will disburse the first tranche of approximately $43 million in financing for Blue Mountain Renewables’ 34 MW wind project in Jamaica. When construction begins in June, this project will be a tangible example of public and private sectors in both countries working in harmony—and nearly $90 million of investment in Jamaica’s economy, which also will ease Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Additional U.S. Assistance to Promote a Cleaner more Secure Energy Future in the Caribbean:
The U.S. government continues to deepen its technical assistance and capacity building programs to the Caribbean under the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) initiative and other mechanisms:
Improving Governance: The U.S. Department of State is supporting technical assistance in Saint Kitts and Nevis to support development of their geothermal resources. Work includes competitive procurement processes, electrical system analysis, environmental review, project management, and technical and commercial island interconnection studies. Under the Haiti Energy Policy and Utility Partnership Program, funded by USAID, the U.S. Energy Association is supporting power sector reform in El Salvador, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.
Facilitating Development of Cleaner Energy Sources: Through the Department of State-funded Caribbean Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Project, the Organization of American States (OAS) is providing project development support to Caribbean governments and utilities for sustainable energy projects. The U.S. Department of Interior, together with State, is working with Jamaica to facilitate commercial renewable energy on public lands. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Improved Cooking Technology Project in Haiti resulted in more than 50,000 biomass and LPG stoves sold to reduce charcoal use and is encouraging the widespread adoption of this technology. The OAS, with Department of State funding, is assisting Trinidad and Tobago in the Closed Loop Cycle Production project to promote cleaner production methods among small businesses.
Developing Collaborative Networks on Clean Energy: The Department of Energy, in partnership with the Government of the United States Virgin Islands and Caribbean-Central American Action, will host the Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium March 24-27, 2015 in St. Thomas, USVI. The Symposium will be the first in a series of regional stakeholder engagements to formulate concrete goals, sharing best practices, and addressing implementation strategies for clean energy adoption. Working Groups will create networks to address Caribbean clean energy issues, including energy education, efficiency, renewable energy and electricity diversification, and climate change. Based on the USVI experience, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will publish an Energy Transition: Islands Playbook that will facilitate the implementation of CESI elements in a specific island setting with a focus on improving energy security, boosting economic growth, and advancing environmental sustainability across the region.
Financing Clean Energy Projects: USAID will support a multi-year regional Caribbean program to promote energy efficiency and integration of renewables into island energy grids. The Jamaica Clean Energy Program, which will be the largest portion of the overall effort, aims to establish the pre-conditions for clean energy development, optimize renewable energy integration, and accelerate private-sector clean energy investment. In the Eastern Caribbean, USAID’s support will emphasize the development of new financial tools for energy efficiency and renewables with a particular focus on the hotel and tourism sectors.
The U.S. Trade and Development Agency has provided grant funding for three projects in the Dominican Republic that will support the development of clean energy: a feasibility study and pilot project to assess the viability of modular electric generators, technical assistance to analyze new smart grid options and technologies for improving system reliability, and technical assistance to develop financial tools for commercial users to acquire solar photovoltaic power systems for self-generation.
Increasing Energy Efficiency: DOE, OPIC, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are developing the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) Program. CHEER will provide technical assistance, training, and attractive financing to hotels that commit to reduce their energy and water footprints through efficiency and renewable technology solutions. Through the Department of State’s Sustainable Communities in the Caribbean and Central America project, the OAS is promoting clean energy and efficiency in Antigua and Barbuda and the Dominican Republic.
Expanding Access to Electricity, Information and Technology: USAID is working to rehabilitate a 4MW power plant in Northern Haiti. The Peace Corps, together with the Department of State, is increasing access to environmentally friendly energy technologies as well as educating communities on conservation, climate mitigation, and adaptation, in countries where it is present. DOE is providing technical support to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs to design and carry out a Caribbean-wide Regional Energy Research Center. The Department of State, through the OAS, is catalyzing regional technical cooperation on renewable energy, air quality and greenhouse gas measurements through the Inter-American Metrology System.