COMMENTARY: Dominica’s electrical bills increased 46% since 2015; the sun can lower them

Across the Caribbean, except for oil-rich Trinidad and Tobago, electricity costs are already among the most expensive in the world — and it is only getting more expensive. In Saint Lucia, electricity prices have almost doubled in the past 30 years, and in the other countries in the region that do not produce oil, we have seen increases over 40%.

In the Caribbean, the price of electricity rises and falls with the cost of oil. This is because almost all of our electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels, which must be imported into our countries. Just as dependence on imported food creates food insecurity, dependence on imported oil creates energy insecurity.

Today, in addition to the devastating toll that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has taken on human life, it has also shaken up the global energy market. This has resulted in huge increases in energy prices in our Caribbean countries, thousands of miles away from the conflict.

However, this does not have to be the case. There is a solution. We can be self-sufficient, energy secure, and own our local energy resources.

Millions of tourists come to our shores because of our year-long sunshine, our beautiful beaches, and our picture-perfect natural environment. We can use that sunshine not only to generate tourism dollars, but also to generate our own electricity.

The electricity we produce in our countries from renewable sources like solar will not only be cheaper but will also increase our energy security by removing our dependence on imported oil. Additionally, it will help us to reduce our carbon footprint and continue to lead by example in the global fight against climate change. Ultimately, harnessing solar power unlocks the ability for everyone to access affordable, clean, resilient energy, and eventually, cheaper, and cleaner transportation.

This is not a hypothetical idea — it is the reality of today’s Caribbean market. There are already several solar projects being built all over the Caribbean that are generating cheaper, cleaner energy. For example, a recent solar project in Montserrat that brought the island to 50% renewable energy is projected to cut electricity generation costs by more than EC$47.2 million over the project’s lifetime. We just need more political and utility commitment to these projects. To reduce energy costs, we need government, citizens, and electric utility companies to come together and take decisive action to transition to cleaner renewable energy.

Not only is solar better for the environment and often cheaper, on average cutting generation costs by more than 30%, but it also helps during and after hurricanes. When a large power grid goes down it can take weeks or even months to get power restored to everyone. Right now, in the Bahamas and in Puerto Rico, solar microgrids with battery storage are being built to withstand or come back online quickly after intense hurricanes. Distributing generation with renewable energy microgrids increases grid resilience while lowering generation costs.

Large-scale adoption of renewable energy will not only make electricity cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient after a hurricane, but it will also create a wide variety of jobs. Jobs and employment opportunities for managers, electricians, civil engineers, electrical and mechanical engineers, plumbers, machinists, heavy equipment operators, technicians, metal workers, construction workers, designers, and salespeople will all increase during the energy transition.

By moving toward a renewable energy-based electricity system, we will eventually make transportation cheaper. Electric vehicles, including cars, trucks, and buses, are getting increasingly accessible as advancements in battery technology and growing e-mobility markets continue to drive costs down. Many major car manufacturers have set targets for stopping the production of internal combustion engine vehicles and moving completely to electric vehicles. Already, in Bermuda, an all-electric powered public bus fleet is being deployed across the country and the entire public transit system will be fully electric in the next eight years. If we can make electricity cheaper, electric mobility options will be more affordable for everyone.

The time is now for us to harness the power of the sun to generate our own electricity right here in the Caribbean. It will make electricity cheaper. It will create jobs. It will make us more resilient during storms. It will help us decrease the emissions of the dangerous greenhouse gases that are causing climate change. It will reduce air pollution. It will give us energy security.

We cannot continue to expose ourselves unnecessarily to the volatility of the global oil markets. High oil prices are crippling our national economies and increasing the cost of living for all of us to extremely uncomfortable, if not unbearable, levels. Instead of focusing on the problem, we can view this as an opportunity for urgent action. We must act today to promote and adopt more affordable, home-grown renewable energy solutions. We cannot afford to wait.

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6 Comments

  1. Just Asking
    June 27, 2022

    So, what’s your point?
    It needs support from people like you that don’t seem to get it, you’ll win in the end. Ever tried to remove a tick from a dog?

    • Just Asking
      June 27, 2022

      Response to smh below

  2. Labarat
    June 25, 2022

    In 2015 I learnt from a very senior person at domlec that years before, domlec bought some acres of land at Mero to put a solar farm. It was disapproved by skerrit and his regime. Love allu pm. The higher fuel goes the more they make on their percentage fuel surcharge. Labah will bleed Dominican to the last.

  3. Ibo France
    June 24, 2022

    Green energy,specifically geothermal and solar, has been touted by this regime many moons ago. Dominicans are yet to see one electric bulb being lit by either of these sources.

    How many times has Roosevelt bellowed that geothermal energy is imminent? On the eve of the last election, he ordered the road in the vicinity of the geothermal plant to be shut down then activated the turbines of the plant.

    The election has come and gone over 2 1/2 years ago but geothermal energy is still elusive. This guy is just a habitual, unrepentant, compulsive, diseased LIAR!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1
  4. smh
    June 24, 2022

    Where do the materials come from to build and replace those solar panels and batteries? Where do the materials go once they are no longer useful? We don’t make solar panels or batteries in Dominica so at the end of the day we are still going to be importing. And those panels don’t just come out of thin air, they have to be manufactured and I’m sure those factories that make them don’t run on solar.

    All this green energy nonsense is just a sham being pushed by people with something to gain – governments, green energy companies, corrupt politicians, global elites who want to control people etc.

    Besides we already supposedly have one of the best green energy projects in the geothermal plant that is over a decade now in development. If this green energy thing is so good why is it taking so long for a single a plant to come online?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 11

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