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Keep it local!


Mike King

Keep it local!

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Foreign?players should be kept out of the renewable energy market for at least the next three years.
Noting that all of Barbados’ banks, its telecom companies and the lone electricity firm were foreign owned, David Staples, a director of the Williams Group of Companies, does not want to see the renewable energy market follow suit and is calling on Government to give all of the projects for the next three years to local companies.
Staples made the case before an audience that included Minister of Industry and International Business Donville Inniss, Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite and Ambassador to CARICOM Robert “Bobby”?Morris at a lecture series hosted by the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank on Tuesday night.
“Renewable energy should be allowed for local companies only for a period of two to three years. We have waited 30 years for this moment.
“There have been so many false starts. It is here. It’s real. We have it on our roofs; we can show it to you,” he said.
Speaking at the official launch of the inaugural National Services Week, Staples said there were companies others than Williams, such as Platinum Systems, Innogen and Solaris, which were on board.
“There is a role here for local companies. We can keep the operating systems here, we can retain the profits here, and after ten to 15 years when all the foreign exchange is paid back, that foreign exchange stays in Barbados. It doesn’t go to London, New York or Miami.
“It is a remarkable opportunity to buttress this idea that it makes sense to have a local presence. All of our banks are foreign owned and controlled, our two telecom companies are foreign owned and controlled and our electric utility is now foreign owned and controlled,” he said.
Staples, president of Fairways Developments Ltd, said countries such as the United States, China and Japan had reserved sectors of business activity for local companies.
“I am suggesting give us two to three years. If we can’t do it, let everyone come in. The foreigners are going to have to sell us these panels/wind turbines. We can’t make them here . . . . We will buy the equipment we need, but we can do it. Give us the chance,” he added.
Staples said it wouldn’t cost the Government anything, but a regulatory environment would have to be put in place, in which people would know what they were going to get paid for their power, how long they were going to be paid for that power and that they had legal access to that grid.
He said local companies could produce renewable energy on a scale that Barbados could actually start to measure the amount of oil it could save.
“The cost of these systems has dropped by 50 per cent in the last two years and we at Williams have installed almost two megawatts of photovoltaic electricity – that is almost 8 000 panels.”

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