People have been calling saying that I have been referred to as “the culprit stirring discontent against geothermal in the Roseau Valley”. Since this is a gross misrepresentation of my position, I would like to again state my long held position on geothermal development in Dominica.
Most Dominicans know that I have been in the vanguard of those who support geothermal development. However geothermal development cannot be done in the absence of the people living in the area or an independent Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). The lack of inclusion and transparency to date has resulted in the present anxieties. For instance, some of the negative information circulating is the result of indifferent developers elsewhere not working in the best interest of residents and cutting corners on the best practices on health and the environment.
Compared to fossil fuel, geothermal extraction releases far fewer greenhouse gases (about 1/6 less) per unit of electricity generated. Binary plants, which are closed cycle operations, release minimal emissions. Like hydro and unlike wind or solar, geothermal has 90+% availability, with down time assigned to maintenance. Geothermal power is homegrown, thus reducing our dependence on foreign oil and saving our country millions.
As we continue to suffer from sea level rise, coral bleaching, and more ferocious hurricanes triggered by global warming, we in Dominica must be leading world advocates for the reduction of greenhouse gases and a green alternative to development. Also, if the EIA recommends the development can proceed, then the development would be consistent to the “nature island” image and lead Dominica to be the first country in the world operating on only renewable energy and, with our forest, making us a net greenhouse gases sink thus attracting further interest from others to visit our shores and support our mission.
Because Dominica has huge potential of geothermal energy, and with the neigbouring French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe huge demand for inexpensive clean energy, Dominica has a great opportunity to supply these islands with clean energy while significantly lowering the price of electricity in Dominica. Dominica’s base load is currently about 10MW (megawatts) while the peak load is about 15MW. Martinique and Guadeloupe need in excess of 400MW each. While Guadeloupe geothermal fields supply 16MW of geothermal power from its plants in Bouillante, Guadeloupe geothermal resources which are not as big as ours, just cannot meet the island’s electricity requirements. Since Dominica can supply part of that demand, our country has a huge opportunity to use geothermal energy to propel our development.
Further I strongly support full benefits for the valley residents and the people of Dominica just like the Bedouins in Saudi Arabia and the gulf states went from camels and sand in their noses, to being some of the most affluent people on the planet; just as Venezuela and others are basking in the national development of their energy resources, so too can Dominica. From early times we opposed the UNEC geothermal application and later the misguided geothermal contract given to West Indies Power which, as we predicted, is now on the ash heap.
· I am fully in support of the development of geothermal energy in Dominica as long as an independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) determines it is safe to do so and the development adheres to the findings and recommendations of the EIA.
· I strongly advocate valley representation selected by valley residents on any geothermal committee set up by law.
· I also strongly advocate that the geothermal commercial development and the transmission cables be owned by the government and people of Dominica thus guaranteeing maximum returns to the valley residents, people of Dominica, and the government of Dominica. The safe development of the resource would be better guaranteed since the people’s ownership would never do anything detrimental to affect their own health and environment as opposed to external ownership interest whose main focus would be to maximize return on investment.
How do we do that? We obtain a Power Purchase Agreement from France agreeing to purchase our electricity at a guaranteed price which we take to financing institutions. This is exactly what foreign interest would do.
If this position is detrimental to the interest of valley residents, Dominicans, and Dominica, then I am a “culprit” and stand accused and guilty as charged. I strongly advocate we quickly move forward on this sovereign ownership initiative which would make it possible for free education to the highest level, free universal health care for all at western world standards, more money to fund other development, and an annual dividend (l’argent séche) in Dominicans pockets.
That’s my position.
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