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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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New Partner, Same Old Plan?

Dear Source:
This week it was announced that Arizona State University (ASU) is partnering with the Virgin Islands to assist in the development of sustainable environmental practices and education opportunities in the territory as well as support the expansion of the renewable energy industry. The Virgin Islands delegation that met with ASU included the Governor, Commissioner of Labor Albert Bryan, WAPA’s Executive Director Hugo Hodge, Waste Management’s Executive Director May Cornwall, Energy Director Karl Knight and UVI’s Caribbean Green Technology Center.
This partnership will undoubtedly be of great value to the Territory and one can only hope that it will also encourage the governor and his delegation to expand their vision and to speed up the Territory’s time table for transitioning to a fossil-fuel-free energy future. The Territory’s current 10-year energy plan future is calling for us to still be utilizing fossil fuels (oil, propane, natural gas) for 40% or more of our energy needs in 2025. Today this looks a little silly for three reasons, 1.) ASU, our new partner, is planning to be carbon neutral in the same time period, 2.) by 2025 Aruba will already have been 100% renewable for five years, and 3.) the Virgin Islands could easily be the first island in the Caribbean to produce all of its electricity from renewable energy resources (wind, solar, biogas).
No one ever remembers who came in second in a race and the race to be the first island in the Caribbean to “Go 100% Renewable” will pay huge rewards for the island that crosses the finish line first. There would be mountains of free international press focused on a friendly race between the Virgin Islands and Aruba; free press that would benefit both islands and the region in general. Our tourism product would instantly become attractive to the highly-sought-after, fly-in (they spend more) “green traveler” who wants to spend their money in places that share their values. As we build out the system, the Virgin Islands would be regularly visited by delegations from other nations around the world who want to see and learn how we made it happen. Our local renewable energy business sector would expand and create hundreds of new jobs. And once completed, our cost of energy would be stabilized for decades to come, reduced by half or more of what we are currently paying, and the millions a year we now spend for fuel would stay in the Territory to circulate in our local economy (creating more jobs).
So when will this administration and its department chiefs get with it upgrade our now out of date and rather unimpressive current energy plan? It is an election year folks and if your candidate isn’t taking the pledge to get the Virgin Islands in this race and to win it, then you need to ask why not! Let’s go for the gold, we can win this thing!
Kelly Gloger, St. Thomas

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