EDITORIAL: Fuel for thought
The cost of imported fuel, so necessary to our way of life and standard of living, is once again on the front burner. Actually, it never left the burner, even if the reduced price of oil in recent months created a sort of respite from the very high cost of a barrel of fuel. But fuel prices are on the rise again.
On Monday last, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, signing an agreement with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) president Luis Moreno for two loan agreements of US$40 million (BDS$80 million) – which included a component of US$10 million (BDS$20 million) to finance a sustainable energy investment project – made it clear energy was being regarded by his Government as a front burner issue.
Mr Stuart put the matter bluntly: “I was flabbergasted to discover that what we spend on the importation of oil can be compared with the amount of education here in Barbados, and that is a situation that is not satisfactory to us, and therefore the issue of renewable energy is a front burner issue . . . a front burner agenda item for Barbados.”
This truth ought to galvanize each one of us to be as careful as we can be in our consumption of imported oil, and we should also be eager to utilize alternative energy in all aspects of our daily lives.
We urge all Barbadians to support the Government’s initiatives and to adopt the proper and efficient use of alternative energy measures. In fact, the sustainable energy component of the loan is designed to put at the disposal of householders the kind of alternative proposals that would enable the country to save at least $283 million over the next ten to 15 years.
This country has been a leader in the production of solar energy, and the production of water heaters has obviously saved the island many millions of dollars over the last 30 years, during which these energy-efficient and energy-saving devices have been in use on our roofs.
Most of us are familiar with the pioneering efforts of Dr Erskine Simmons, a local alternative energy advocate who has been reducing his electricity bills to negligible amounts for sometime now by the utilization of solar energy to power the energy requirements of his home.
Such example shows that it is possible for even greater use of solar energy in our domestic arrangements; and given the renewed urgency and front burner status of this issue, we hope that Government will consider whether and in what respects some financial incentives may be necessary to energize local entrepreneurs and other technically skilled persons who may wish to adapt or utilize existing solar technology to enable us to maximize use of alternative energy.
But to make a success of alternative energy initiatives, the public must be sensitized; and in view of the Prime Minister’s statements the IDB loan could hardly have come at a more propitious time.