4101 Estate Mars Hill
Frederiksted, VI, 00840
Telephone 340.713.8436 Fax 340.772.0063
St. Thomas Office
4605 Tutu Mall, Suite 231l
Montessori School Celebrates Solar Power
Photo by Don Herbert
The Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy has gone solar in a big way and wants to celebrate it in a big way. On Jan. 26th from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. the school, located across from Secret Harbor on St. Thomas, will be the site of a huge Solar Splash Concert with a host of bands and also the site of an eco-fair.
The fair will be held under the latest addition to the school’s solar arrays -- a new solar awning that covers the playground/sports court. It contains 85 kilowatts of solar panels which is expected to produce 13,000 kilowatt hours a month or a saving of over $6,500 on the school’s monthly Water and Power Authority bill.
Peggy Hunt, business director at the school, points out that the awning does more than provide solar power; that it is multifunctional. She says, “It collects rain water for irrigation, provides rain protection for students and shade. It is a free outdoor gymnasium.”
Energy Office Director Karl Knight, who will be participating in the event, says, “The Energy Office is pleased to support the private sector in its embrace of the new energy paradigm. We congratulate Montessori School on its innovativeness and aggressiveness in pursuing clean energy goals.” The Energy Office helped the school with two earlier installations that totaled 22 kilowatts.
The concert will feature live bands---Sol Drivin Train, West Lindy Caribbean, The Sheffield Crew, and Full Circle playing under what the school is referring to as “our colossal solar airnasium.”
At the event there will be food, drinks, and residents will be able to get information from the solar experts on how they can start saving on their light bill as well as help the environment.
The solar production almost covers all the school electricity costs. It also prevents about 7 metric tons of carbon dioxide from going in the atmosphere every month.
Montessori school tours will also be conducted at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. that day.
Putting Energy into Carnival Parade
Aminah Saleem, Grants Manager at the Virgin Islands Energy Office, was there Jan. 5 in Frederiksted to help keep the adult parade going. Above, she helps a Moko Jumbie from the Guardian's of Culture readjust his stilts.
Celebrating with Energy Efficiency
Evernie Motta-Ramos, administrative coordinator at Government House in Frederiksted, puts
a decoration on the tree there. The lights are LED and use one-tenth the electricity of regular tree lights.
Gov. John P. deJongh Jr. declared October to be Energy Awareness Month. See proclamation press notice here. Highlights of the month included Energy Star Days on each of the islands.On Oct. 23 the event was held at Sunny Isle, St. Croix; on Oct. 26 it was at Market Place, St. John; and on Oct. 27 it was on St. Thomas at the Tutu Mall. Each event attracted close to 100 residents or more.The theme for Energy Month is Words Into Action; Action Into Results.
The Virgin Islands Energy Office, in its aim to make its latest solar water heater rebate program run smoothly, had meetings with all the potential vendors in September. Above, Leila Muller, right, Energy Operations Coordinator, conducts the meeting on St. Thomas on Sept. 20. The meeting on St. Croix was Sept. 18.
June Workshop Focuses on
Clean Energy Residents are invited to attend a free Community Clean Energy Workshop at the Bjerget House, 56-58 Hill Street in Christiansted, St. Croix, on June 11. The workshop will feature progress reports on the EDIN-USVI goal of reducing the territory’s dependence on fossil fuel 60 per cent by 2025. Topics to be covered in the day-long event include renewable energy developments, the future of wind energy in the territory, outreach and education efforts, permitting and interconnecting renewable energy in the USVI, and what the next steps should be. The Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) partners, including the V.I. Energy Office and the V.I. Water and Power Authority, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of the Interior, are hosting the event.
The historic US Viking Bjerget House was chosen as the site for the workshop to highlight the energy efficiency upgrades it is receiving this spring as part of the Worthwhile Investments Save Energy (WISE) program. The project, which will reduce the Bjerget House’s energy use by an estimated 52 per cent, was funded by an Energy Office grant. To register for the EDIN-USVI workshop, call Kinesha Sylvester at the Energy Office – 713.8436 ext. 3610.
Karl Knight of the Energy Office and Hugo Hodge of the Water and Power Authority will provide updates on the status of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects.
Energy, Earth, Environment
After Gov. John P. deJongh declared April 22 Earth Day in the Virgin Islands, the Energy Office made plans to use the whole weekend to educate residents about how closely energy use is related to a clean environment. Energy Office staff was at the National Park Ballfield, top left, in Cruz Bay on Friday to reach out to St. John school students . On Saturday the Energy staff was at Hawksnest Beach, top right, taking part in Reef Fest. Then on Saturday, energy educators were at Striving for a Sustainable Virgin Islands at Sub Base on St. Thomas on Sunday talking about energy and the environment. For more photos and a video of the event, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzEuHZZ-D1s.
Price of gasoline getting you down: Check out these tips from the V.I. Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs on how to cut your gasoline consumption.
Energy in Education Week
Gov. John P. de Jongh, Jr. proclaimed
the third week of March Virgin Islands Energy in Education week. To mark the week, the V.I. Energy Office went out in the community to give residents information about Energy issues and to learn from the community how energy projects are progressing. Events included talking to American Institute of Architects for the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas, lecturing at the Montessori School(students, top photo), answering questions on a radio call in talk show (photo, bottom left, Patricia Lord), making a presentation to a condominium association, talking to students at the University of Virgin Islands about how energy issues might affect them in the future and checking on the status of the waste to energy project at Bovoni landfill (photo, bottom right, Joseph Daniel and Carl Joseph).
St. Croix Agriculture Fair 2012
Tens of thousands of visitors came to the St. Croix Food and Agriculture Fair on Presidents' Day weekend in February. Energy Office staff passed out many fact sheets concerning energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Energy Office staff also set up a solar car racing track so youngsters could see solar power in action and have some fun too.
The Virgin Islands Energy Office staff was on hand both days of the Bordeaux Fair, Jan. 15 and 16, 2012. The staff made available information on energy efficiency and alternative energy to the thousands of people who attended the annual fair in the hills on the west end of St. Thomas. The fair is sponsored by Bordeaux Farmers We Grow Food. For a video from the event, click here.
St. John Chamber Members Learn About WISE Program
Miguel Quinones, program specialist at the Virgin Islands Energy Office, presented St. John Chamber Chapter members detailsof a key initiative in VI Energy Alliance program when the Chamber convened at the Battery in Cruz Bay Oct. 25.
He said the Energy Alliance program was designed by the VI Energy Office “to reduce the energy consumption for all customers including government, large commercial and industrial, small businesses and residential.”
He then narrowed his focus to the segment of that program that was most likely to help the small business persons in the audience. -- USVI WISE (Worthwhile Investments Save Energy). He told the room that included about a dozen people that WISE’s first focus is on helping small businesses cut down energy consumption. He pointed out that investments in energy efficiency have a high rate of return. He added that predicting revenues without a strong knowledge of energy use and costs is very difficult.
If, after an assessment by the Energy Office, a business is found eligible for the WISE program, it can receive a grant for up to 40 percent of the cost of energy improvements it makes.
Eligible applicants are small retail and service businesses with utility usage of 30,000 kWh monthly or less. To qualify, businesses must own their buildings or have long-term leases.
Quinones emphasized that a business will have to demonstrate that it has implemented energy efficient methods that reduce its consumption by 15 percent before it will be eligible to use grant money for renewable energy projects such as solar or wind.
Quinones outlined the process that a business person would have to go through to get into the program and he had applications available for those interested. Audience members pointed out that if there could be a revolving loan element added to the program to aid businesses with their 60 percent obligation, the program would become even more attractive.
Quinones said that the Energy Alliance program is part of Gov. John deJongh, Jr. plan to reduce the Virgin Islands need for fossil fuel by 60 percent by the year 2025
40 Years and Still "Growing Strong
The Energy Office's tent, above, at the St. Croix Agriculture Fair in 2010 was near the livestock area. This year it will be by WAPA near the main entrance. Stop by and visit. Youngsters who take the Climate Change quiz will earn prizes. The Fair this year is Feb. 19,20 and 21.
Climate Change at Bordeaux Fair
The above song will be played at the Energy Office booth at the Bordeaux Fair,
Jan 15 and 16th; the broadcast power will come from solar power.
Solar Sprint Spread Over Two Islands
About 100 young students took part in the fifteenth annual Junior Solar Sprint competition held March 19 on St. Croix and March 26 on St. Thomas. Twenty-three schools across the three islands registered to participate in this V.I. Energy Office sponsored event.
Each school is allowed to have up to three teams and each team has two students. The two top teams finishing were from St. Thomas -- Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic and All Saints Cathedral School. Finishing in third place was Church of God School from St. Croix.
This year the finalists from St. Croix traveled to participate in the St. Thomas races at Tutu Mall. In recent years the races were held on St. Croix, but as the races grew, it became harder to transport all the students from St. Thomas to St. Croix.
The competition is a hands-on, educational experience that was developed for junior high school students to improve their knowledge of science, engineering, and renewable energy concepts by constructing solar model cars. The students design and build cars from kits supplied by the Energy Office, which is a division of the Office of the Governor.
Government Fair to Explain Stimulus Funds
Virgin Islands residents can learn on November 27 how stimulus funds are being spent in the territory and how they might be able to take part in various programs. The Departments of Education, Labor, and Health, the Water and Power Authority and the Energy Office will showcase some of the programs funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 at a fair on St. Croix – Your Stimulus Dollars at Work in the parking lot of the Sunny Isle Annex.
The Energy Office, a division of the Office of the Governor, is the lead agency for the fair. The Energy Office already has several programs up and running – an expanded rebate program, a new grant program, and the Solar Thermal Installers Training Program (a multi-agency partnership) – and two other of its programs are about to be implemented. The Energy Office is also administrating a federal Weatherization program new to the territory this year. Residents will be able to determine eligibility, pick up and submit rebate applications at the fair.
The fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on what is commonly called Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year, in the previous location of the movie theatres. Of special interest will be solar thermal water heaters on display. Four prototype models were built by trainees in a solar water heater class funded by ARRA. The trainees are currently in the fourth and final stage of the program. During this phase they are installing 16 solar water heaters at various non-profit agencies around the territory. The Energy Office will also have solar pedometers available. The pedometers emphasize the need to burn calories instead of carbohydrates.
Other government agencies spending stimulus funds have been asked to participate as have vendors of alternative energy and energy efficiency products. All the information about the rebate programs and grants programs as well as tips on energy efficiency will be available. The Energy Office will have the same materials available on St. Thomas during the Agriculture and Food Fair, December 5-6, at the University of Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus.
Office Offers Grant Application Workshops for V.I. Non-Profit The Virgin Islands Energy Office is accepting Discretionary Grant Applications from Non-Profit Organizations to assist with energy efficiency projects to include energy education outreach, building retrofits, and solar outdoor lighting. The grant programs are designed to assist community groups, civic organizations, schools and institutions in successfully implementing energy efficiency/renewable energy projects. Grant limits were increased to $50,000 under this program as funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and administered by the Energy Office, a division of the Office of the Governor.
A one day free workshop will be conducted on November 19, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m,.at the University of the Virgin Islands Administration and Conference Center, Room 142-1B, on St. Thomas, with simultaneous video cast at UVI St. Croix Campus Great Hall, Room 134. Industry experts will present valuable information on the Discretionary Grant Program, Energy Audits, Grant Application Procedures, Federal Reporting Requirements, and much more.
Bevan R. Smith, Jr., Director, encourages all non-profit organizations and individuals who provide technical support and assistance to grant applicants in areas of proposal development, grant application packaging, product selection and monitoring requirements of successful grant recipients to attend. Workshop registrations are accepted via e-mail at email@example.com. For more information contact Joseph Daniel at 774-3320, extension 6108. Grant applications are available by clicking on the grant section in the menubar above.
Energy Schedules Public Hearings on Stimulus Funds
The Virgin Islands Energy Office is holding three public hearings to inform residents about funds received under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The U.S. Department of Energy has made available about $31 million dollars for formula based grants.
The funds are divided in three categories – State Energy Program, $20.7 million; Weatherization Assistance Program, $1.4 million; Energy Efficiency Conservation Block grants, $9.6 million.
The hearings will be held on each of the main islands in their respective senate buildings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. St. Croix hearing is May 5. St. Thomas is May 6 and St. John is May 7. A short presentation will be made and then Energy Office staff will be available to answer questions.
The stimulus act which gives preference to activities that can be started and completed expeditiously has several goals
To preserve and create jobs and promote recovery
To assist those most impacted by the recession
To provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in energy
The purpose of the Weatherization Assistance Program is to increase the energy efficiency of dwellings owned or occupied by low-income persons, reduce their total residential expenditures, and improve their health and safety. The priority population for the Weatherization Assistance Program is persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, persons with disabilities, families with children, high residential energy users, and households with low incomes.
The goals under the State Energy Program are
Increase energy efficiency to reduce energy costs and consumption for consumers, businesses and government
Reduce reliance on imported energy
Improve the reliability of electricity and fuel supply and the delivery of energy services
Reduce the impacts of energy production and use on the environment
The Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants will focus on the development and implementation of energy efficiency practices. This effort will include building audits, financial incentives, grants to government and non-profit agencies, and programs to conserve energy in transportation.
This is the first year the Virgin Islands has been eligible for grant money under the Weatherization program. It is expected that funding will continue on an annual basis. However, the rest of the funds are just a one-time effort.
Anyone wishing for more information about the hearings are asked to call the Virgin Islands Energy Office, a division of the Governor’s Office, at 774.3320.
Office Schedules Town Meetings on Energy Strategy
The Virgin Islands Energy Office is holding three Town Meetings to receive input from residents concerning the Virgin Islands Comprehensive Energy Strategy. The plan was produced over the last few months by the Southern States Energy Board under the direction of the Energy Office and a policy advisor within the office of the Governor. Funding for the project was made available, in part, from the United States Department of the Interior.
The strategy is designed to ensure the availability of affordable and reliable energy for the future and maintain a high standard of living for the citizenry.
Main objectives of the strategy are to: Reduce energy costs
Increase efficiency of energy use and production
Increase fuel diversity and reliability
Promote clean energy
The strategy outlines the current energy situation, notes energy resource options, and lists specific strategies to meet the main objectives.
The plan sets forth 31 strategies to support the above energy goals. The strategies cover broad areas such as energy efficiency, alternative energy and specific issues such as reducing the Water and Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system losses and adopting an updated Tropical Energy Code.
The hearings will be as follows: St. Croix is June 16, University of Virgin Islands Cafetorium St. Thomas is June 17, University of Virgin Islands, 1st Floor Administration and Conference Center, formerly the Harvey Building St. John is June 18 at the Senate Building
Each hearing is from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A copy of the plan can be reviewed by clicking here. All members of the public are invited and asked to submit questions in writing. Members of the Energy Office staff and members of the Southern States Energy Board will be available to answer questions.
Public Hearing draws crowd
The Energy Office’s public hearing in Frederiksted, St. Croix, on May 5 was attended by over forty residents. The hearing focused on the $1.4 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program being awarded to the Virgin Islands. However, discussion about how other funds coming to the Virgin Islands from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would be spent was heard.
The evening began with a power point presentation by Director Bevan R. Smith Jr. The presentations outlined proposed uses of the funds and requirements. Click here to see a version of the presentation.
Twelve residents made comments and gave suggestions during the hearing. Some of the suggestions were:
Rebates for electric cars
Don’t close down the rebate program for a couple of months each year
Raise caps for rebates for photovoltaic systems
Include in the goals reference to reducing the carbon footprint of individuals
Offering training to owners of photovoltaic systems about maintenance of the system
Reach out more to residents with tips on simple ways that they can reduce their consumption of energy
Focus on areas that will bring meaningful employment to local workers
Make an effort to get a solar water heater assembly plant in the Virgin Islands
Take bold, aggressive action and raise the goal to being 95 percent free from fossil fuel power production by 2020
Make the Water and Power Authority into a power distribution company and give the responsibility to generating the power to another company
Increase the size of a residential system that is allowed to net meter with the Water and Power Authority
For a video of the testifiers click here. Hearing are also scheduled on St. Thomas on May 6 and on St. John May 7.
Bordeaux Fair Jan. 17 and 18, 2009 The Energy Office staff spent two full days talking energy issues at the 12th annual Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair on St. Thomas, Jan. 17-18, 2009. The fair, which continues to grow each year, is hosted by the Bordeaux farmers' collective, We Grow Food. Benita Martin-Samuel, one of the founders of the collective, said the fair had about the same attendance this year - 1,000 a day.
The fair is mostly about agriculture and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture gives great assist to it. However, booths included everything from homemade brooms to calabash yoyos, bead jewelry, handmade clothing, clay pots, oils, and art.
The V.I. Energy Office had a photovoltaic system on display. Hundreds of residents received information about energy efficiency and alternative energy. Seventy-five rebate information packets were handed out. Some CFL bulbs were distributed. DVDs on the Energy Office Innovative Solar Grant programs were also given to residents who showed a marked interest in developing a PV system. Many more people are coming to the Energy Booth knowing that, though alternative energy does require an investment, the investment is worth it for any home owner. Residents are weighing the economic costs as well as the environmental costs of relying on oil. The Energy Office staff might find its role shifting from convincing residents that energy consumption habits must be changed to simply encouraging them to do what they already know is right.
Island residents celebrate the Earth
In April 2009 in the Virgin Islands there was not one, but three Earth Days. In a sign of the times, as more people are becoming concerned about the environment, all three celebrations showed high pariticpation. On April 17, the University of Virgin Islands St. Thomas campus was full of youngsters attending the 5th Annual Pro-Enviro Fair. It featured a game show "Who Wants to be and Environmentalist."
On April 20 the action was on St. John. Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park sponsored the Environmental Fair at the National Ball Park in Cruz Bay.
St. Croix outdid her sister islands by celebrating Earth Day two days and in two different places. The most important event for students was the Eco Fair at St. George's Botanical Gardens on April 22 and April 23. This event always attracts about a thousand youngsers.A more serious event was held on the St. Croix UVI campus where the U.S. Environmental Agency sponsored an Earth Day Conference.
Carl-Axel Soderberg, regional director for the EPA, led off that program with a presentation highlighting many facts about the Virgin Islands. One of the more shocking facts he stated was that per capita the Virgin Islands is emitting six times the Greenhouse Gases that the United States is.
In his presentation, Don Buchanan, of the Energy Office, pointed out that the new administration in Washington has declared that Greenhouse Gases are a serious pollutant. he added that emitting Greenhouse Gases is going to become much costlier soon when either a carbon tax or a cap and trade system is initiated.
. Working to Secure a Clean Energy Future The Energy Office marked Energy Awareness Month in October by giving presentations to employees at different departments in the V.I. government concerning how to practice energy efficiency. Along with 16 presentations to government offices, Energy Office staff had nine public outreaches. In total the office was able to connect with about 1,000 residents.
The public outreaches emphasized the theme Working to Secure a Clean Energy Future and included participation in Chamber of Commerce events on both St. Croix and St. Thomas. Other public outreaches were held at Sunny Isles; Cruz Bay; Cost U Less; and the Ackley Media Group Energy Fair at Tutu Mall.
Around100 copies of a new DVD available for residents interested in installing photovoltaic system were distributed. The film covers eight different sites on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix where residents have photovoltaic systems working for them.
Government departments receiving presentations included Housing Finance Authority; GERS; Economic Development Authority; Office of Management and Budget; Public Employees Relations Board; Department of Labor; Veteran’s Affairs; Elections Systems; Finance Department; Department of Tourism; Public Services Commission; and Government House, St. Croix.
The presentations included energy efficient tips that the attendees could use at work and at home.
Impact Of Climate Change Presented at U.V.I.
Dr. John Agard, a professor of Marine and Environmental Sciences at the University of the West Indies, speaking on St. Thomas campus of the University of the Virgin Islands Thursday morning, emphasized that education is the key to solving the Global Warming crisis.
His presentation Environment in Development: The Impact of Climate Change, highlighted areas such as rising sea levels and increased hurricane intensity that are of special interest to Caribbean Islands.
The presentation, which was also video cast to the UVI St. Croix campus where several dozen students from St. Joseph High School watched, tied concerns with the environment to social and economic issues. He said, “A long term investment in education is needed.” He said educated people will understand how all these issues areconnected and how our well being is dependent on a clean environment. He pointed out some indisputable facts such as temperatures are rising on a scale that corresponds with the rise of carbon dioxide placed in the air. He explained the greenhouse effect that scientists say is causing the heating up of the earth. He admitted that the earth naturally has cooling off and warming up periods and explained those. However, he said that now, because of burning fossil fuel, we have knocked the earth off its natural balance.
When asked what students could do, he answered, “We must all make a personal commitment. You will be making a choice about cars. You don’t have to aspire to owning something with a three or four liter engine. You can get a hybrid.” He added that he hoped that the SUV would become a category of vehicle that ceased to exist and that electric cars became common. He added, ”Though it might not seem like much when you practice energy conservation at home, turn off the lights, pull those adapters that aren’t connected to anything out of the socket, it does add up to a lot when many people do it.”
Don Buchanan, spokesman for the V.I. Energy Office, attended the presentation on St. Croix. He said afterward. “Dr. Agard’s message was right on the mark. It is the message that the Energy Office is trying to get out too.” Buchanan added, “His point about education and people learning about sustainability is so important. Many people don’t realize the true cost of burning fossil fuel. When you factor in all the health costs and environmental problems caused by burning fossil fuel; wind and solar produced energy looks very cheap."
Dr. Agard, who served as a lead author in the United Nations initiated Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, expressed confidence that the environmental policy under President Elect Barack Obama would improve drastically. He called Obama’s proposals “fantastic” and added that they were even more ambitious in their goals than the goals of the Kyoto Accords which President Bush backed out of. Dr. Agard also explained how carbon credits under Obama would probably work.
Dean of the Division of Science and Mathematics, Dr. Camille McKayle, said, “It is very rare that we can get a scientist to speak on a subject so pertinent to the area where we live.” She praised his ability to communicate the science on a personal level. She said the Chase Auditorium had about 50 people in it during the presentation and most of them were faculty, graduate students and community members.
Dr. Agard served as a lead author of the 2007 UNEP Global Environmental Outlook. He is also lead author of the Small Islands Chapter of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. The IPCC and Al Gore shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
At the regional level, Dr. Agard is a co-leader of the Caribbean Sea Assessment (CARSEA), published in 2007. He is a member of the Caribbean Sea Commission formed by the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) to advance the cause of integrated management of the Caribbean Sea. He is also a member of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Regional Task Force on Climate Change.
Global Warming Film Presented on St. Croix
The film Dimming of the Sun sparked a lot of discussion about the effects of the Virgin Islands' addiction to fossil fuel on the environment when it was shown at the Pistarkle Theater at Tillet Gardens on St. Thomas on Oct. 10. However, the second showing scheduled for the University of Virgin Islands on St. Croix on Oct. 17, had to be postponed because of Hurricane Omar.
The Energy Office, in partnership with the St. Croix Environmental Association and the UVI Marine Advisory Council, has rescheduled the showing for Nov. 7 in the Great Hall at UVI campus at 7 p.m. The movie is free and Energy Office staff will be available after the showing to answer questions about how energy issues affect our environment. To see a preview of this thought provoking film click here.
V.I. students turn sunshine into speed
May 13, 2008 -- The 13th Junior Solar Sprint Competition went without a hitch on May 2 on St. Croix.
Around 130 students attended the race held in the Wendy's parking lot at Sunny Isles shopping center. Students from 22 private, public and parochial schools in the territory participated.
This year's big winner was again Sts. Peter and Paul on St. Thomas. One of the school's teams took first place in the speed category, while another took third place.
Sandra Lashley, a teacher at the Manor School, said, "It was exciting to see the kids having fun while learning about solar energy. The camaraderie and cooperation among all of the students today was great."
Bevan R. Smith, who originally brought the race to the Virgin Islands, is now the director of the V.I. Energy Office. He said, "Over the years, with this race, students have gained knowledge, and are now miles ahead on solar energy. This is a thoughtful, fun activity to get kids involved."
The race winners:
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Arthur A. Richards): Clemrick Bryan and Kaheam Stanley
Third (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabin
Fourth (St. Patrick's): Brandon Lawrence and DeAndre Asson
Fifth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Danlia Daniel and Ashlee Forney
First (Sts. Peter and Paul): Jennifer Vante and Sarah Ann Charles
Second (Sts. Peter and Paul): Ashlee Forney and Danlia Daniel
Third (Kingshill): Aaron Schaffer and Ian Heath
Fourth (Sts. Peter and Paul): Aubrey Warner and Cadim Sabim
Fifth (Kingshill): Martin Burgos and Clayton Bradford
Second-place winner Clemrick Bryan said he had a feeling his team would place after they won four out of five races.
"This is a fun way to learn about solar energy," Bryan said.
Participating St. Croix schools included St. Patrick's, Arthur A. Richards Jr. High, Good Hope Church of God Academy, Country Day, Elena Christian Jr. High, Free Will Baptist, John H. Woodson Jr. High, The Manor School, St. Mary's, Positive Connections, IQRA Educational Center and the Kingshill School.
Participating St. Thomas schools included Antilles, Bertha C. Boschulte Junior High, Sts. Peter and Paul, All Saints, Addelita Cancryn Junior High, Montessori, Moravian and Church of God Academy.
Wind Workshop Draws a Large Crowd
The Wind Workshop put on by the V.I. Energy Office at the end of January on St. Thomas made it perfectly clear how serious local residents are about utilizing alternative energy.
Dwight Baily, one of the leaders of the U.S. Department of Energy’s
Windpowering in America team, said, “This is something else. We have never seen anything like this.”
Over 200 residents paid to attend. The Energy Office originally planned for 60 to 80 attendees. The workshop had to be moved to one of the larger rooms at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort. Bevan Smith, director the Energy Office, said historically, the Energy Office generally only gets thirty to forty attendees at such workshops. Governor John deJongh gave opening remarks and stayed to attend the first half of the full day workshop.
The presentations, made by wind experts from the Department of Energy, are now available by clicking on presentations. When you arrive at the web location, right click on the file you wish to download.
Wind Workshop Set on St. Thomas
The Energy Office, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is presenting an opportunity for residents to learn about wind power’s potential. All residents are invited to the Wind Energy Workshop at the Wyndham Sugar Bay Resort on St. Thomas on Jan. 31.
The day-long workshop will include experts from the U.S. Department of Energy Wind Powering America, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Sandia National Laboratories and a Caribbean wind farm expert.
Governor John deJongh and Bevan Smith, director the Energy Office, will give opening remarks at 8:30 a.m.
An overview of the workshop will be given by Dwight Bailey. Bailey is Project Manager of DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, PA. He provides financial assistance, program information, and technical assistance to state and local governments, and public and private organizations in the Eastern part of the United States for the U.S. DOE Wind Powering America Program. Workshop topics will include:
--Commercial Wind Technology
--Current Wind Technology Applications
--Validated Wind Map for the U.S. Virgin Islands
--Avian Issues in the Virgin Islands
--Small Wind Opportunities in the Virgin Islands
--Caribbean Wind Projects
In the last year, with the increase in electrical rates, many residents have invested in wind technology or are considering doing so. The VIEO has been urging residents to be cautious when making such investments. Director Smith has said that wind can be a valuable source of alternative energy, but only under the right conditions.
Larry Flowers, of NREL, will talk about current wind technology. He has been with NREL for the past 27 years. Since 1990, he has been a team leader at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center in Boulder, Colo. His current assignment is the National Technical Director of Wind Powering America, a DOE program launched in 1999 to dramatically increase the deployment of wind in the United States.
Dennis Elliott, a lead researcher in wind resource at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, will speak about the wind map. He has led the development and validation of new high-resolution wind resource maps for more than 30 U.S. states for the Wind Powering America initiative. He has also led the development of wind resource maps for various countries of the world through projects supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, United Nations Environment Programme, and other clients. In addition, he has conducted studies in other areas of wind characterization such as offshore assessment, wind shear and tall-tower analyses at elevated heights to 100-m+, and refined methods for assessing wind potential. He has published many papers, often with other team members in the wind resource group, including articles in the Encyclopedia of Energy.
Jose Zayas, the program manager of the Wind Energy Technology Department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will speak about commercial wind technology. He has been at Sandia since 1996. His areas of expertise include active aerodynamic flow control, sensors, dynamic modeling, composite analysis, and data acquisition systems.
Phil Dougherty, Acting Manager for the Department of Energy’s Wind and Hydropower Program, will speak about wind experiences in the Virgin Islands. He also serves as national director of Wind Powering America. He leads a nationwide government team that works with national, state and local stakeholders across the energy, agricultural and environmental sectors. He also leads an inter-agency task force to address wind-siting issues that could affect critical federal mission areas.
Margo Guda, of the Antiyano Foundation of Energy, will speak about Caribbean Wind Projects. She is affiliated with the wind farm on Curacao.
Onaje Jackson, of Sustainable Systems and Design International on St. Croix, will talk about avian issues in the Virgin Islands.
Registration for the workshop is $25. A registration form can be found by clicking here.
Energy Office Celebrates Earth Day 2008
Energy Office staff members were on St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas at events marking Earth Day.
The first Earth Day was in 1970 and is held each year to promote awareness of environmental issues.
All Energy staff were on hand to recognize Cassandra Dunn, Water and Power Authority spokeswoman, who received the Vincent D. George "Light the Way" award on Earth Day at the Fredrick E. Dorsch Center in Frederiksted.
She received the award for her promotion of energy conservation in the territory and her conservation and use of solar power at home.
The award is given by the Energy Office to an individual, business or organization that has demonstrated or promoted the use of energy efficiency or renewable-energy technology in their homes or businesses. It commemorates the life of the late Vincent D. George, a longtime Energy Office employee.
Bevan Smith Jr., the office's current director, presented the award. He said,"Mrs. Dunn was selected to receive the award because of her tenacious attitude regarding energy conservation and professionally sharing that message with residents." Smith also cited the key rule that Dunn played in WAPA's "Change a Light, Change the World" campaign.
Although the date for Earth Day has been traditionally April 22, for the sake of avoiding conflicts and allowing agencies and organizations to participate at events on all islands some schedules are adjusted.
Energy Office staff participated in the Earth Day Celebration on St. John on April 15, the one on St. Thomas on April 18, and the one on St. Croix on April 23.
Junior Solar Sprint Set May 2
The Thirteenth Annual Junior Solar Sprint Competition has been rescheduled for May 2. at the Wendy’s Restaurant South parking lot in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
The race, which was originally scheduled for April 4, will begin at 9 a.m. The event had to be postponed because of the threat of high seas.
Many of the students from 25 Virgin Island schools have to travel by ferry.
The Junior Solar Sprint Competition is a hands-on, educational experience that was developed for junior high school students to improve their knowledge of science, engineering, and renewable energy concepts by designing and constructing solar model cars.
Students from St. Croix’s private, public, and parochial schools will compete in the solar model car elimination races. The St. Croix schools include: St. Patricks, Arthur A. Richards Jr. High, Good Hope School, Church of God Academy; Country Day School; Elena Christian Jr. High; Free Will Baptist School, School of the Good Shepherd, John H. Woodson Jr. High, The Manor School, St. Mary’s, Positive Connections School, IQRA Educational Center Inc., and . Kingshill School.
The St. Thomas schools include: Antilles School, Bertha C. Bosculute Junior High, St. Peter and Paul, All Saints School, Addelita Cancryn Junior High, Montessori School, Moravian School, and Church of God Academy.
U. S. Congressional Subcommittees on Energy Meeting in Frederiksted The Congressional Subcommittee on Insular Affairs and the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources will hold a hearing in Frederiksted Saturday.
Energy issues facing the Virgin Islands will be discussed and federal officials, local officials, and alternative energy providers will testify.
The potential for energy efficiency measures and alternative energy to address energy challenges will be discussed. Residents of the Virgin Islands pay far higher electricity rates than the rest of the United States, and are almost entirely dependent on imported foreign fuel sources. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. at the Frits E. Lawaetz Conference Room, Legislature of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix.
"With the cost of energy being a worldwide problem that is exacerbated in the territories, it is necessary to get our specific needs before the Congress, so that we can be a part of any solution that is crafted by the body," said Congresswoman Christensen, who chairs the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs. Energy Subcommittee. Chair Jim Costa (D-CA) and member Bill Schuster (R-PA) are expected to attend.
The Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) share a number of severe energy problems. As islands, they lack interconnection to larger electrical grids that would provide emergency backup power or economies of scale. Lacking indigenous sources of fossil fuels, they are almost entirely dependent on imported oil or refined petroleum products for electricity generation. This dependence causes electricity prices to track with petroleum prices, contributing to electricity rates that are higher than anywhere else in the United. In addition, the tropical marine environment of the insular areas creates maintenance difficulties for energy equipment, as corrosion is accelerated in humid salty air, while the frequency of tropical storms on the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the CNMI makes the installation of renewable energy generating equipment more troublesome and expensive. The general public is invited to submit testimony for the record. The record will remain open until two weeks after the hearing date.
Invited local witnesses include Usie Richards, president, of the V.I. Legislature; Bevan Smith, director, V.I. Energy Office; Hugo Hodge, executive director, V. I. Water and Power Authority; and Daryll Miller, president, St. Croix Alliance to Protect Utility Ratepayers.
Also testifying will be a panel of energy providers and a panel of federal officials.
Solar Lights Light Up St. Croix Parking Lot
At an Open House March 7, the V.I. Public Defenders Office demonstrated that government agencies can work together efficiently to curb the Virgin Islands’ dependency on foreign oil. The Public Defender’s Office received grant money from the Virgin Islands Energy Office (VIEO), a division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, in April 2007 and had five solar lights installed in the parking lot around its building in Clifton Hill within the year. Chief Territorial Public Defender Harold L. Willocks, in his opening remarks at the open house celebrating the completion of the project, encouraged other government agencies to take advantage of such funds.
Onaje Jackson, of Sustainable Systems, one of the contractors for the project, said typical payback for such projects is two and a half to four years. He said, “This is an example of taxpayers’ money well spent.” He pointed out that another project “just down the road” at the University of Virgin Islands, where 72 lights were installed, has already paid for itself. “They are now getting free lighting.”
Director of the VIEO, Bevan R. Smith, Jr., said, “We appreciate this type of professionalism and vision of going for alternative energy.”
The cost of the project was $34,000. The VIEO’s Discretionary Grant Program, funded through Stripper Well Restitution Funds, gave $20,000 for the project. Willocks said, “It is going to pay for itself. It is going to go beyond paying for itself.”
The project is also expected to contribute to clean air, cutting down on the release of 5,900 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
Jackson said, “We, as a local community, are in a big transition period. We are going from the old energy paradigm of petroleum energy to renewal energy.” He added that he thought it was an “exciting time, but very challenging.”
About two dozen people attended the open house. This included members of the media, government, and two representatives from NR Electric which did the installation of the lights. The parking lot lights, which will benefit several businesses located in the building, came on near the end of the event. If you have a dialup connection and wish to view a video of the open house, click here; if you have a broadband connection click here.
The VIEO’s Discretionary Grant Program includes several categories -- Energy Education Outreach, Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit, Solar Outdoor Lighting, and the Energy Education Mini-Grant Program. Grant application information is available by calling the VIEO at 774-3320.
DOE Recognizes Energy Office, WAPA Cooperation Jan. 2, 2008 -- The V. I. Energy Office and V.I. Water and Power Authority finished a program on Dec. 31 that has received attention from the U.S Department of Energy.
CThe program helped nonprofits save money with hundreds of compact fluorescent lamps being donated to them. The final donation was two dozen bulbs to Catholic Charities in Christiansted on the last day of the year.
WAPA donated the bulbs and the Energy Office distributed them. Receiving bulbs were Elaine Ione Sprauve Library on St. John, Lighthouse Mission, a shelter for homeless in Christiansted, the Women's Coalition, a shelter for victims of domestic violence in Christiansted; My Brother’s Table in Frederiksted, which serves meals to the homeless, King's Hill School in Le Reine and the Family Resource Center on St. Thomas.
“This program fit right in line with recent federal efforts to get more energy efficient light bulbs in use. The energy act passed in December mandates that only energy efficiency light bulbs be sold after 2014,” said Don Buchanan, spokesperson for the Energy Office.
"The added benefit of this program was it reached out to the people who might have been having a harder time make the switch,” Buchanan continued.
The Department of Energy put information about the program on its web site in December. It can be seen at http://www.eere.energy.gov/state_energy_program/project_brief_detail.cfm/pb_id=1217
Cassandra Dunn, WAPA spokesperson, said the utility was glad to do its part to see that people in need could be helped in bringing their monthly bills down.
The program started in October, which was proclaimed by Gov. John deJongh, Jr. as Energy Awareness Month.
Energy Rebate Program Up and Running
The Virgin Islands Energy Office started its 2007 – 2008 rebate program on Dec. 1. The Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Rebate Program and the Energy Star Appliance Rebate Program, which was recessed on Sept. 30, is scheduled to run through Sept. 30, 2008.
Both programs are designed to educate the public and offer financial assistance as an incentive to purchase energy efficient and renewable energy products. The rebate offer applies to residents of the United States Virgin Islands only and purchases must be made in the Virgin Islands from certified rebate dealers. To read an indebth story on the program in the St. Thomas Source, click here.
The Virgin Islands Energy Office invites all Virgin Islands businesses interested in providing energy efficient and renewable energy products and services to contact its office for information on how to become a “VIEO Certified Rebate Dealer”.
The Energy Office is located at No. 45 Mars Hill, Frederiksted or residents can call Leila Muller at 773-1082, extension 2201 for information. To download information about rebate products click here. If you are interested in becoming a rebate vendor click here.
Saved by the Sun Presented at UVI St. Croix Environmental Association is sponsoring, along with the V.I. Energy Office, a showing of the Nova film Saved by the Sea at the UVI St. Croix's theater in the student Center starting at 7 p.m. on Aug. 24.
In the face of steeply rising oil prices and political turmoil in the Middle East, there’s a new urgency and enthusiasm for finding ways to make solar power more efficient and affordable. From installing solar panels on homes to massive projects, the solar industry in gaining ground in the US. Germany is on track to produce 30 percent of its electricity from alternative energy by 2030. This film explores progress in the solar industry. The Virgin Islands with its abundance of sun should not be left behind. After the film a V.I. Energy Office representative will discuss alternative energy projects in the Virgin Islands.
Staff Talks Energy to Potential Homeowners at First Bank June 19, 2007 -- The V.I. Energy Office staff participated in the "Homeownership Expos" held on St. Thomas and St. Croix in June.
The events were sponsored by First Bank and focused on providing information and assistance to those about to become homeowners in the Virgin Islands.
Joseph Daniel, Energy Operations Coordinator on St. Thomas, said that more than 50 people came to the Energy Office's table set up at First Bank's waterfront branch on June 9. He said most of the question he and fellow staff members –Kasim Andrews, Idita Matthew Peters, and Kendall Sanderson – fielded were about energy efficiency. He added, "Certainly, there were a number of questions about alternative energy too – solar and wind."
Don Buchanan, who, along with Leila Muller, manned the Energy Office information table at the Orange Grove branch of First Bank on St. Croix on June 23, said the St. Croix numbers were similar to those experienced in Charlotte Amalie. He added, "Many people now know when purchasing a home that energy costs are an important consideration."
This was the 11th annual expo sponsored by First Bank. The Energy Office has been a regular participant.
Besides the Energy Office, eleven other exhibitors were on hand at Orange Grove to answer questions from potential home buyers. Seminars were given on How to Qualify for a Mortgage and credit evaluations were also conducted. To read a story from Source about the Expo on St. Croix, click here.
Energy Rebates Outlined at Island Fairs Island residents learned how they could get money back for energy efficient practices at Energy Rebate Fairs in May. The Energy Office held the fairs on St. Croix and on St. Thomas. If you did not have a chance to make the St. Croix fair you can view a film clip. Broadband click here. Dialup click here. For St. Thomas vendors, broadband click here. dialup click here.
The St. Croix Fair on May 5 was in the Sunny Isle parking lot near Wendy's. The St. Thomas fair on May 12 was at Tutu Park Mall.
The fairs ran from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. and will included displays of energy efficient appliances as well as alternative energy products. If you are thinking about getting into net metering -- sending power to WAPA instead of just buying if from the utility-- now is the time to see what is out there. The above films are good introductions to the vendors
March 29, 2007 -- Two dozen people attended a ceremony March 23 which honored a St. Thomas family for its future contribution to energy efficiency and a St. Croix family for its past contributions.
In the Department of Natural Resources conference room on St. Thomas, the Elskoe family was presented the Vincent D. George Light the Way award. The award has been presented annually since 2001 to an individual, business or organization that shows innovative achievement in energy efficiency or the use of alternative energy.
Laurie Thomas-Jacobs, Administrative Assistant at the Energy Office, gave a brief biography of George.
George worked at the Energy Office from 1987 until his death in 2000 as the Energy Education Program Coordinator. He was instrumental in developing that program. He was also the person responsible for expanding Energy Education Day to the present Virgin Island Energy Education Week.
Thomas-Jacobs said, “Vincent loved his job. He enjoyed being with what he considered his main audience -- the children.”
His parents, Reginald and Virginia George, were present at the event and received praise and a gift fruit basket for their support of the Energy Office.
During the presentation, Bevan R. Smith, Jr., Director of the Energy Office, which is a division of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said, “We regard the George’s as the First Family of Energy. They have been with us through all our trials and tribulations while Vince was with us and after he was gone.”
The Elskoe family, doing business as Wintdots Development, is building the Flagberry Hill development which includes six villas and 60 condominiums. The development is using an energy efficient design, solar power and wind when possible. The plan for the development was announced last year.
Aaron Martin, construction manager of Turner International, talked how the construction company would use sustainable development techniques. Turner was recognized by President William Clinton for its commitment to “Green” buildings.
Smith spoke highly of the planned development. He pointed out developers who include energy efficiency and alternative energy in original design phase, not only benefit the environment but they save a lot of money.
Members of the family attending the event included Glenn, president of Wintdots, Dorothy, vice president of Wintdots, and Sandyl Elskoe. Former Senator Almando "Rocky" Liburd, part of the extended family, spoke for the family. He said “times have changed” and he sees solar energy projects playing a bigger part in the Virgin Islands energy mix
Alicia Barnes, Assistant Commissioner, spoke as a representative of the DPNR. She said it was her first public appearance in her new position.
Smith also noted that this was the last function Thomas-Jacobs would be performing as an employee of the Energy Office. She had taken a new position as Executive Administrative Officer in the Office of the Commissioner Robert Mathes.
Julio Petersen III, a student at the University of the Virgin Islands, sang the National Anthem and the Virgin Islands March.
The award, started in 2001 by Victor Somme III, former energy office director, was presented in conjunction with this year’s Energy Education Week. Other events during the week were public screenings of Al Gore’s Oscar Award winning film – An Inconvenient Truth -- and school presentations.
Hundreds at Global Warming Events March 26, 2007 -- More than 300 Virgin Island residents took the opportunity to view the Oscar award winning documentary– An Inconvenient Truth -- during Virgin Islands Energy Education Week.
For a Film of opening remarks at the Caribbean Community TheaterClick Here.
The V.I. Energy Office and the Water and Power Authority teamed up to present free screenings at Pistarkle Theater on St. Thomas, University of Virgin Islands on St. Thomas and Caribbean Community Theater on St. Croix.
To emphasize the screenings, Waste Management Authority helped kick off the week by sponsoring the showing of the actual slide show on which the movie was based. About 80 people attended the event at the new amphitheater in Sunny Isle Shopping Center.
And then with each event the numbers grew.
The final showing at Caribbean Community Theater drew over 150 people.
Unfortunately, a few people had to be turned away at the UVI showing in Chase Auditorium because it was a full house.
Bevan R. Smith Jr., director of the Energy Office, gave remarks preceding the screenings at Pistarkle and UVI. Don Buchanan, media specialist, gave opening comments at Caribbean Community Theater.
Literature concerning alternative energy and energy efficiency were passed out at each event.
Click here to see film of Energy Week kickoff event on St. Croix.(NEW)
The V.I. Energy Office has grants available in four areas -- education mini grants, energy education outreach, building retrofit grants and solar outdoor lighting. The deadline for this round of the Discretionary Grant Program is Dec. 14.
Up to 10 mini education grants for $1,500 will be awarded. Two education outreach grants are available. There are also two building retrofit grants and two solar outdoor lighting grants available.
All grants, except the mini-grants are for $20,000 and require a 25 percent or $4,000 match. Applications may be picked up at the Energy Offices on St. Croix at 45 Estate Mars Hill or on St. Thomas at the Cyril E. King Airport.
Or it can be downloaded by clicking here. It is a large file and takes a while to download.
"Clean and Green: For a Secure Energy Future" was the national theme for Energy Awareness Month. The V.I. Energy Office in films, presentations, and public outreaches brought the message to Virgin Islanders. Joseph Daniel, St. Thomas office, spoke to a resident at Tutu Mall on Oct. 26.
New gas mileage statistics released by EPA
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency has released information on gas mileage for for all 2008 models.
With a gallon of gasoline costing Virgin Islanders from close to $3 to almost $4, the most important question a resident might ask when purchasing a car this year is what is the gas mileage.
The statistics show that resident could save $3,000 a year in fuel costs if she choses to buy a small hybrid instead of a big gasoline guzzler.
WAPA, Energy Office Join in Campaign to Help Nonprofits Become Energy Efficient With New Bulbs In October the V.I. Energy Office audited the Lighthouse Mission in Christiansted for energy efficiency. Energy Office staff were able to put recommendations into immediate effect thanks to the Water and Power Authority.WAPA and the Energy Office joined in a partnership to get energy-efficient light bulbs to community, non-profit organizations. When Energy Office staff finds inefficient, incandescent bulbs, it can replace them with compact fluorescents donated by WAPA. "By working together we can make good things happen,” Percy Radcliff, engineering supervisor at the Energy Office, said. On the day before the Mission audit the Energy Office had taken the bulbs to the Women’s Coalition in Christiansted; My Brother’s Table in Frederiksted, and the King’s Hill School in Le Reine. Earlier in the month the Energy Office gave over 200 energy efficient bulbs to the Queen Louise Home for Children as part of the Exchange a Bulb Campaign. The first beneficiary of the partnership between WAPA and the Energy Office was the Elaine Ione Sprauve Library on St. John. Bevan R. Smith, director of the Energy Office, said, “Changing light bulbs won’t solve all our energy problems, but it shows that Virgin Islanders are going in the right direction.”
Saved by the Sun
draws crowd on St. Croix
Showing set for St. Thomas
Over 50 people were at the UVI St. Croix campus theater in the Melvin Evans Center on Aug. 24 to see a free showing of the Nova film Solar Energy: Saved by the Sun. As a bonus the film Who Killed the Electric Car was also shown.
In between the movies residents questioned Energy Director Bevan R. Smith, Jr. about Virgin Island energy matters. The Energy Office has tentatively scheduled a showing at UVI St. Thomas Campus for Oct. 10.
Energy Office staff will again be on hand to answer questions. Also, another showing on St. Croix at the Caribbean Community Theater is being considered. Co-sponsors of the first St. Croix event were the St. Croix Environmental Association and the V.I. Marine Advisory Service.
The Nova film emphasizes progress in the solar energy field that can be taken advantage of in the Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands Daily News has published a story calledNow may be best time yet to consider renewable energy. You can read it by clicking here.
With net metering, every Virgin Islands residence and small business is a potential source of renewable energy for the territory,” said Nellon Bowry, Interim Executive Director of the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. WAPA has announced the formal launching of the utility’s net metering program effective Aug. 1. Net metering will allow consumers to offset the cost of electricity they buy from WAPA by selling the excess power they generate through their individual solar or wind systems back to WAPA.According to Bowry, net metering will be an important financial incentive for renewable energy development in the Virgin Islands.
WAPA worked closely with Virgin Islands Energy Office Director Bevan Smith, Jr., to develop the net metering program which was approved by the Public Services Commission (PSC) in February. Since then, the agencies have finalized agreements and customer application forms, and fine tuned the logistics of how the program will operate. In order to maintain the electric system’s stability, WAPA has placed a limit on customer renewable energy facilities that can be connected to the grid. The total amount of power given to WAPA cannot exceed 5
Complete text of the press release
megawatts in the St. Croix district or 10 megawatts in the St. Thomas/St. John/ Water Island district which is about 10% of the peak load WAPA generates daily. Approximately 5,000 customers in the St. Croix district and 10,000 customers in the St. Thomas district can participate. Customers interconnecting small photovoltaic (solar) systems or small wind systems or other renewable energy systems can deliver a maximum of 10 kilowatts (kW) monthly into the grid. Net metering will be available to certified residential or commercial customers on a first-come, first served basis until the cap is reached.
WAPA will install a single meter with two-registers to accurately measure the kilowatt hour (kWh) usage of power flowing to and from net metering customers. All energy delivered by WAPA in any monthly billing cycle will be charged at the prevailing PSC approved electric rate. Energy delivered by the customer to WAPA will be credited each month to the customer’s electric account at that same rate. At the end of each year, or if a customer discontinues service, any excess kilowatt hour credits will be granted by the customer to WAPA without compensation to the customer. The PSC has approved a one time non-refundable net metering agreement processing fee of $25.00. Under net metering, only the kWh units of a customer’s bill are affected, so excess energy credits will not reduce any fixed monthly customer charges.
According to the Virgin Islands Energy Office, seven customer renewable energy facilities in the Virgin Islands meet the standards set by the national electrical code and are potentially ready for net metering. Once they are certified by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) and meet all WAPA requirements, they can be interconnected to WAPA’s system.
The Virgin Islands joins about 40 states and the District of Columbia that have instituted net metering programs. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, mainland public electric utilities are required to offer net metering on request to customers before the end of the decade. According to Bowry, with the introduction of net metering, WAPA has met another recommendation made by the Department of the Interior in its Territorial Energy Assessment Report 2006. Bowry expressed appreciation to Smith and the staff of VIEO for the cooperation and guidance they provided during the development of the net metering program.
While acknowledging that small energy systems eligible for net metering may not be an affordable option for all of WAPA’s customers, Bowry says that residents must remain concerned about energy conservation and environmental issues. With the help of the V.I. Energy Office’s rebate program, the purchase of energy efficient appliances and renewable energy products such as refrigerators and solar hot water heaters is more affordable. Bowry also encourages residents to continue energy efficiency practices including changing all incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs as a way to lower utility bills.
Application packets for customers interested in net metering are available from WAPA ’s customer service offices. More information about renewable energy systems is available from the Virgin Islands Energy Office at 773-1082.
Moravian Church Dedicates Solar Lights V.I. Energy Office Director Bevan R. Smith, Jr. spoke and Patricia Lord, program administrator, was recognized at the Friedensfeld Moravian Church located in Mon Bijou on St. Croix on May 20. Video highlights of the event
The congregation held a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of an outdoor solar lighting project and new restrooms.
The Energy Office, through the Solar Outdoor Lighting component of the Discretionary Grant Program, gave $20,000 to the church.
The church made a 20 percent match to comply with the grant requirements. The seven solar powered outdoor lights will provide security lighting throughout the church yard grounds. The church must now submit quarterly reports on maintenance and operation of the lights, and hold public awareness activities to educate others about energy efficiency.
Several dozen people attended the event, which was coordinated by Rev. Reuben A. Vessup.
The Discretionary Grant Program aims to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through competitive grant-seeking proposals.
Projects should benefit a significant proportion of the community.
Funds are awarded to proposals that include a cost-share (in-kind or cash) of at least 20 percent of the grant amount requested. The target population is not-for-profit organizations, government agencies, schools, and institutions. Grants are available for Energy Research and Education, and under the Energy Education Mini-Grant Program.
For more information about the grants call the V.I. Energy Office at 773.1082 on St. Croix or 774.3320 on St. Thomas.
St. Croix Agricultural Fair Draws Residents The V.I. Energy Office had thousands of Virgin Island residents visit its tent at the St. Croix Agriculture Fair Feb. 17, 18 and 19th.
There appeared to be two motivating factors that kept a stream of interested residents going through the tent -- the recent approval by the Virgin Island government concerning net metering and a splash of advertising by a local retailer concerning wind energy. Staff was questioned often about net metering. More than 70 copies of Currents, with an updated story about the status of net metering, were given to interested residents. The highest interest at the fair was, as usual, the rebate program. Two hundred of the rebate packages prepared by Leila Muller, program monitor, were distributed. It seems a higher percentage of residents were interested in the alternative energy rebates than at previous outreaches where most residents seemed interested in energy-efficient appliance rebates. The tent had a Global Warming exhibit. Forty copies of “Ten Things You Can Do to Curb Global Warming” were given out as were about 30 copies for youngsters of fact sheets defining climate change. About 120 fact sheets concerning solar energy were distributed.
Many residents were attracted to the site by the wind turbine set up outside the tent. It was explained to residents that wind is a good idea, but only if the wind at the proposed site has been measured and found sufficient. See Video (Dialup version - DSL version)
Energy Office Hits Rastafarian Fair
The V.I. Energy Office had a tent at the Rastafarian We Grow Food Fair at Bordeaux on Jan 20 and 21. Staff members got its message out to hundreds of people concerning energy efficiency and alternative energy. Most fair attendees, because they are environmentally conscious people, were receptive to the information.
The V.I. Energy Office’s tent was set up on the midway where practically all the people attending the two-day fair had access to it. People were mostly interested in wind and solar information. Many fact sheets were passed out.
Leila Muller passed over 40 packets of information about the rebate program each day.
Senators Usie Richards and Terrence Nelson stopped by the tent to talk. A resident who bought used batteries from the Atlantis submarine and wants to set up a solar system got information as did a couple who, because of the remoteness of their location, have a small solar system. They are looking to expand. A couple owning a small hotel in Charlotte Amalie discussed what options they have for going solar as did a couple representing a condo association. Several people in the process of building new homes had questions about solar and wind energy.
Energy audits are being conducted
The Energy Office in conjunction with the Water and Power Authority is conducting energy audits of residences. If you would like to take part in the program, please pick up an application at an Energy Office or WAPA office. The Energy Office is located in the Deparatment of Natural Resources building in Frederiksted on St. Croix and in the Cyril E. King airport terminal on St. Thomas. An application can also be obtained by requesting one via e-mail.
Energy Awareness Month
October is Energy Awareness Month. The Energy Office schedules many media appearances and outreach programs during the month for information about scheduling a progam contact Don Buchanan, media information specialist.
The third week in March is Virgin Islands Energy in Energy Week. Watch this space for announcement of events when they are scheduled.