4101 Estate Mars Hill
Frederiksted, VI, 00840
Telephone 340.713.8436 Fax 340.772.0063
St. Thomas Office
4605 Tutu Park Mall
EDIN Conference Dec. 12 on St. Thomas at UVI
Much progress has been made breaking the Virgin Islands addiction to fossil fuel. Three years ago, when the Energy Development in Island Nations was kicked off the Virgin Islands was effectively 100 percent dependent on fossil fuel. That is changing. The Virgin Islands has also cut down on its carbon emissions during that period. Persons interested in learning about the changes and progress can attend the EDIN Workshop the ACC Room No. 142-1A on December 12 at theUniversity of Virgin Islands, St. Thomas.
With the assistance of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Virgin Islands set out to reduce fossil fuel consumption 60 percent by the year 2025. Energy project developers will give an update on that progress at this day-long workshop. (Registration starts at 8 a.m.) Speakers will also address upcoming Initiatives of the Caribbean Green Technology Center and the Water and Power Authority’s ViEnergize Business Services Unit. To preview the agenda, click here.
If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to Lucy Estephane at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 713.8436, St. Croix or Molissa Brin, 714-8436, St. Thomas.
V. I. Energy Office Director Karl Knight monitored meetings between representatives of the FPL Energy Services Inc., Miami, Fla., and facility managers of the two local hospitals last month. The topic was energy retrofits which will cut the hospitals power consumption and ultimately their Water and Power Authority bills. The projects should be in full swing early next year. "We look forward to a fruitful relationship with FPL Energy Services and befitting from their knowledge and expertise,” said Director Knight.
The V.I. Senate, earlier this year, authorized the Public Finance Authority to issue $35 million in bonds to fund these projects, and others, through energy-savings, performance contracts. The contract for these projects is similar to the contract with Energy Systems Group, Indianapolis, Ind., for energy retrofits in 34 public schools signed earlier this year by the Department of Education. An energy-saving, performance contract is an agreement between a building’s owner and an energy service company to guarantee energy-saving improvements. The company conducts an audit of the facility, identifying energy-saving improvements, then designs and installs what meets the owner’s needs.
The Energy Office engineered a pilot project, partnering with the Department of Education to do 11 public schools in 2011. The project was funded by $6.7 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act grant funds. The conservation measures included water and lighting retrofits -- the installation of LED lighting and high efficiency fluorescent lighting fixtures -- multi-functional occupancy sensors, low-flow toilets, low-flow urinals, and push-button faucets. The project was completed in October of 2011 on time and within its budget. Savings for the first year were $1.3 million. The contractor, Energy Systems Group, had guaranteed $1.2 million.
Plans in the latest project include, along with the Gov. Juan F. Luis Hospital and the Roy Lester Schneider Hospital; the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, the Charlotte Kimelman Cancer Institute, and the Virgin Islands Cardiac Center. Knight said, “The projects present an opportunity to replace large capital equipment – boilers, chillers, freezers, coolers, laundry equipment, etc. In many instances the useful life expectancy of that equipment is nearing its end and the ability to replace them through energy savings is quite beneficial.” He added, “We are excited to assist these critical facilities in applying tried and proven energy conservation measures." The hospital projects, besides the above mentioned energy-efficient measures, could include the installation of combined heat and power systems and solar photovoltaic systems. FPL Energy Services, Inc. is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., and an affiliate of Florida Power & Light Company. The company, which has worked for the federal government, has received awards from the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
October is Energy Action Month
The theme this year is "Take Action Now: Empower A Secure Energy Future." Below is a film from the storyofstuffproject which offers some solutions.
This system can produce $600 worth of electricity every month.
Solair Has Installed Solar for 33 Years
Solar companies are abundant in the U.S. Virgin Islands now, but it was not that way 33 years ago. There were thee, maybe four, installers in the islands. Beech Higby III, who founded West Indies Solair on St. Croix in 1980, was one of them. He said he saw a magazine called “Solar Age” back then and thought solar was pretty cool.
He adds, “My first wife and I needed something to do and, of course, we wanted to help save the world.”
He began installing solar water heaters and solar electric systems long before they became popular. The systems he installed in the early years were more difficult than the systems he now installs.
Back then, a system became a system because the installer made it a system. Now, people will tell you that all PV systems today don’t come in a box with all the parts and with detailed instructions where everything goes. They would be correct. Installers still have their work cut out for them – sizing the system for the specific customer, taking into account the customers electricity use, location and available space for panels. Customers’ wishes can be difficult. They have favourite trees they don’t want to cut down; their roofs seldom face perfectly in the right direction and at the right slope. In recent years, there have been questions about net metering. How is the utility going to pay me for the excess electricity I produce? What do you mean they wipe the slate clean after the end of the year? What? You have to be kidding me, when the utility loses power, I will be shut down. When the customer finds out that his net-metering system goes down when the utility goes down, he might start arguing that he doesn’t want to net meter; that he doesn’t want to be connected to the utility at all. Beech will then have to explain to them that, if they want power when the utility is down; they are going to have to have a parcel of batteries or a gnerator. The batteries require maintenance and they can be expensive. This is when the customer might decide to back up and discuss again exactly what a simple grid tied system is? But Beech has overcome those obstacles often. In a recent email he stated, “I have personally installed well over 500 solar hot water heaters equalling over 18,000 square feet of collector, which is the equivalent of over 1 megawatt of electricity being produced each day. I have also personally installed over 100 kilowatts of solar electric systems, most without batteries.” The first time this writer talked with Beech about solar installations. It was about eight years ago and Beech wanted everyone to first understand the challenges of solar systems. His explanation, in the words as I remember them, went like this:
“Installing a one kilowatt system is going to cost you at least $10,000. You average five hours of perfect sun in the Virgin Islands each day. This means that you will produce about 5 kilowatt hours of power each day. Since the cost of kilowatt hour here is about 25 cents. Each day you produce about a dollar and a quarter of power each day. It takes a while to pay off a $10,000 investment.” But a lot has changed since then. The cost of power in the Virgin islands has tripled and the cost of panels has been cut in half. In other words, if a project took sixteen years to pay for itself back then; it now only takes less than four years. It is without a doubt a good investment now.
Beech won’t say that he is getting rich, but he does say he stays busy. He adds with pride that his business has been built around customer satisfaction and word of mouth advertising.
Wind regulations reach final step The Small Wind Energy System Rules and Regulations are going through their final revision. The public is invited to provide comments on the proposed revision. The final version of the draft is posted at http://building-permits.dpnr.gov.vi/download-forms.
WAPA Launches VIenergize Services The Water and Power Authority’s VIenergize Services business rolls out July 12 and July 13 on the University of Virgin Islands Campus on St. Thomas.
Energy efficiency companies and renewable energy vendors are invited to participate by simply registering with an email to email@example.com. The public is invited to come learn about what services are available and about WAPA’s Path to Savings. A directory of local, energy professionals and equipment vendors will be introduced
The intent of VIeS is to provide resources to the consumer that will enable her to reduce energy and water consumption and, consequently, the utility bill. VIeS wants to connect consumers with a network of energy professionals who possess the skills and ethics to implement cost-effective, quality energy and water projects in the USVI.
The event will be 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on July 12 and 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. on July 13. There will be presentations by local speakers and community organizations. You can view the agenda at www.viwapa.vi.
Christiansted Boardwalk Gets LED Lights
Benton Construction Company of St. Croix began installing 50 new solar lights on the Christiansted Boardwalk on May 9. The LED lights and solar panels were assembled by Eco Innovations VI, also of St. Croix. The project is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds were administered by the Virgin Islands Energy Office through the Department of Public Works. The Energy Office granted $965,000 to DPW. DPW used part of those funds to change all the traffic lights in the territory to LEDs. The boardwalk project is to be completed before the end of the month.
Carl Joseph, left, energy analyst, demonstrates an anemometer to youngsters at St. Johns Earth Day celebration, April 20, in Cruz Bay. Molissa Brinn, administrative aid at the Energy Office, is on the right.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the end of April announced that it has honored three individuals and organizations from the U.S. Virgin Islands with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment.
“EPA is thrilled to honor the work of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These Virgin Islanders have had a major impact on protecting the environment in their communities and inspire us all to work for a cleaner, healthier environment.” ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy The Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy has been a leader in protecting the environment. Since 2008, the school has installed solar systems that have decreased its electric bill from $84,000 a year to $0. It has also established a student-run recycling program and made teaching about sustainable energy alternatives part of its curriculum. Harold Mark Harold Mark has been improving drinking water quality for Virgin Islanders as a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources since the early ‘90s. Mr. Mark has gone above and beyond his duties as Environmental Manager of the Drinking Water Program, frequently serving as an advisor to small, isolated communities across the islands. Mr. Mark has been particularly successful at making use of federal funds used to help improve public and private water systems throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Marcia Taylor For the last three years, Marcia Taylor has volunteered 30 to 40 hours of her time every month to implement a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Her work has resulted in reducing the sediment pollution in three bays in the U.S. Virgin Islands by approximately 124 tons per year. In addition, Ms. Taylor works as an outreach specialist and coordinates Coastweeks, a program that gets Virgin Islanders involved in cleaning coastal areas.
Energy Office Spokesman Connects Energy Abuse to Environmental Abuse V.I. Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan spoke in late March to the Rotary Club of St. John about how energy use affects the environment. He incorporated into the presentation information from a course on sustainability which he is taking through the University of Illinois.
One of the core elements of that course is called the “Tragedy of the Commons,” It is defined as “Multiple individuals acting independently and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen,” by Wikipedia.Buchanan told the club members gathered at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Café for the weeklymeeting that the concept came from an essay by Garrett Hardin. The essay focused on population, but many find it applies to sustainability issues facing the world today.
“The human race is doomed if it does not begin to follow intelligent principles instead of falling for propaganda and advertising,” Buchanan said. Using Hardin’s example, Buchanan discussed what happened when a Swiss community used a common piece of land for grazing cows. Buchanan said it worked fine when each resident had only one cow. He added that when one farmer weighed the benefits of adding a second cow to the commons, the benefits outweighed the losses. However, when every farmer followed that line of thinking it reached a point where the land couldn’t support the increase.
“This concept is easily related to fisheries and global warming,” Buchanan said.
Bringing his remarks to a local level, he said that consumers would balk if the Water and Power Authority said it was going to raise rates so it could go to more renewable energy. There are three approaches to solving energy issues, according to Hardin’s theory. For starters, people can take individual responsibility by doing things like recycling, turning off lights and unplugging chargers. Second, pressure from peers can convince others to reduce energy consumption. He said this can be evidenced in the environmental groups on the Virgin Islands that work together on environmental problems Last, and the option that’s more difficult, governments can regulate energy usage. However, the world is vast and people in places like China are more concerned with using their polluting heat source to warm their food than stopping global warming.
Still, change is possible, Buchanan said. In an earlier era, people dumped excrement out into the street. That doesn’t happen anymore. He explained that people need to redefine exactly what freedom is. He asked, “Who really has the right to pollute our atmosphere. Just because it doesn’t kill people immediately doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be prohibited, just like robbing banks is prohibited.” Buchanan ended his presentation talking about the extinction of various species. He said that scientists would predict that in the last century two mammal species would have gone extinct. In fact, 79 species have gone extinct. He showed a graph that showed the arrival of Homo sapiens to a continent and the rate of extinctions. The rate of extinctions always jumped rapidly after the arrival of the homo sapiens.
“Is there something connected here?” he asked.
Energy Education Week Proclaimed in Virgin Islands Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr. has proclaimed March 17-23 as “Virgin Islands Energy Education Week.” In his proclamation, the governor urged residents to “Join me in observing this week, to participate in educational and other activities scheduled for this week, and to inform themselves about the importance of energy use and conservation.”
The Virgin Islands Energy Office has joined with UVI’s Cooperative Extension Service to offer three workshops during this week dedicated in the Territory to encouraging responsible and efficient use of energy.
The first workshop is March 19, Tuesday, at the UVI Great Hall on St. Croix 6 to 8 p.m. The second is at the Nisky Center on St. Thomas 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The final workshop will be at the UVI branch office on St. John from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The Energy Office has also scheduled several other community engagements during the week. Director Karl Knight will answer questions at the Rotary Club meeting at Bolongo’s on St. Thomas on Wednesday evening. The Media Information Specialist Don Buchanan will discuss Energy and the Environment on the “Let’s Talk” radio show on March 20 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Enjoying Solar Energy at the St. Croix Ag Fair
Andy and Amanda Mackay of St. Croix got a kick out of seeing how a tiny solar panel could transform sunshine into the energy to run a spouting water fountain. They were at the Virgin Islands Energy Office fair tent on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Wind energy tax credits extended, but solar may still win
The bill that avoided the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of January included an extension of wind energy tax credits.
An industry report said there are 75,000 workers in wind energy and the continuation of the credits will save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country.
Workers installing an anemometer on South Shore, St. Croix
The extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects, will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, with factories or wind farms in all 50 states.
The extension will cover
wind projects that start construction in 2013. It remains to be seen if a project can be started in the Virgin Islands by that time. Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm.
The Virgin Island Energy Office is presently measuring wind resources on the islands to see if a wind farm here is feasible.
Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.
However, solar residential credits will also be in effect this year and Bloomberg News predicts that, because of the low cost of panels, for the first time in many years, more solar compacity will be installed this year than wind.