Solar Energy Programme Unveiled
The Premier, the Hon. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP announced a renewable solar energy programme, the new Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority and provided an update on the Save the Home Programme at a press conference today (Tuesday, 24 April 2012). Mr. Bush's remarks follow.
Thank you for coming.
As a result of my travels and communications with Government leaders in other countries and through the work of the Honourable Deputy Premier's ministry, we have been steadily moving towards responsible participation in combating the effects of Global Warming and reducing the carbon footprint of the Cayman Islands. As you might well remember - I gave you a commitment to work to reduce as many people's electricity bill as possible. We have worked towards that solution. A systematic programme was started.
In Phase One, my government requested the first National Energy Policy a draft of which has now been completed, and calls for a shift towards greater use of renewable energy sources; and we thank the Deputy Premier's Ministry for their hard work.
In Phase Two, we presented a motion (which was passed in the Legislative Assembly) to eliminate the restrictions on renewable energy use with grid-tied systems and the requirement for Net Metering. We thank Mr. Glidden and Capt. Eugene especially for their efforts. As Minister of Finance - in keeping with my promise I set up a committee consisting of Mr. Joey Ebanks, now Director of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, Ministerial Councillor, Hon. Cline Glidden Jr., Mr. Jim Knapp and Mr. Mike Herland, Member of the ERA, to help to get a programme in place.
Today, in Phase Three, I am very happy to announce that the Government will be enacting a solar energy programme for 1500 low consumption homes in the Cayman Islands. This programme will generate savings of nearly 70% for these homes and at the same time ensure that these families will have refrigerators, lights, fans and other electrical essentials available to them without fear of being shut off by CUC. I mean, I don't know of any of our people who might challenge or say they challenge CUC on one bill, then don't pay any for 16 months - but our program will not only save 70% for 1500 homes but also provide between 150 - 200 net new job opportunities for Caymanians. We intend to also examine how government buildings such as this one that is costing us $100 thousand per month, can be included in this initial programme.
Our Government is taking a leadership position in protecting our environment, stimulating our economy and reducing the energy costs for the people of these islands.
This is a very ambitious programme, one that will involve $15 million to fund and put the programme in place, and as Minister of Finance I will seek to find the funding in the upcoming Budget. Work should start by the last quarter of the year.
We will be using reliable data from the Economic and Statistics Office, the Electricity Regulatory Authority and the Department of Social Services, in order to target those in most need of assistance. We will ensure that the myth is broken that renewable energy is only for the very wealthy and elite! This is a programme for all!
I had a discussion with Minister Bellingham, and His Excellency the Governor, on such a programme and we have received a positive response from the UK Government regarding our efforts on behalf of encouraging renewable energy use and the sustainability of our business community.
The way of the future is to diversify energy sources, as much as possible, to stress especially the broader use of clean and renewable energy sources. We will take an increasingly vigorous approach to ensure Cayman keeps in step with this momentum.
I now call upon the people of the Cayman Islands to join myself and the Government in these new energy initiatives, in an effort to take our place amongst responsible nations in protecting our environment and our way of life.
Save the Home Programme
On the 15th of December 2011, the Cayman Islands Government received 2.5 million US dollars, equaling 2.05 million CI dollars from Dart Realty Limited for the Save the Home Programme. On the 17th of February 2012, the Ministry of Finance met with Auditor General.
The Save the Home Programme has received 165 applications to date. It took an average of 1-2 months to receive all documentation in order to fulfill the criteria to process each application. Of these 165 applications, 81 have been approved totaling approximately one million CI dollars and will be forwarded to Treasury for payment and placement of a second charge on the property by the end of the week. Fourteen applications have not met the criteria. Eighteen applications have been placed on hold due to the financial institution withholding approval to restructure or denying the Government a second charge on the property. Three applications were withdrawn by the applicants. Ten more applications are complete and are waiting to be reviewed by the Save the Home Committee. Thirty-nine applications are currently being processed.
For further information contact: Bina Mani