Virgin Islands Energy Opportunities – The VIEOs
In 2009 reducing the Territory’s dependency on fossil fuel, 60% by 2025 was a good goal, which we are reaching rapidly. In 2015, we have reduced our dependency by 20% and our cost of electricity is down to 32 cents.
But, we can do better, and we will. There are many more opportunities that we must strive for in order to identify just how far we can get towards reaching and securing our energy future.
- Reducing Wasted Energy
- Through planning and updating existing plans.
- Develop a Comprehensive Energy Plan that tracks energy usage and costs by sector and end use.
- Support WAPA’s efforts in developing the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for the territory.
- Attract Private Investment
- Promote the development of planned Government sponsored Micro-Grids that can entice large-scale businesses and manufacturing companies to invest in the VI and provide employment and economic growth. These projects should support the efforts of WAPA to sustain a strong energy balance.
- Creating a Utility able to meet the challenges of the future
- Exploring more fuel diversity and reliability, WAPA’s energy generation should move toward a goal of having more than just one dominant fuel source as demonstrated by having at least 30 percent of power generated by energy sources differing from the primary energy source by the year 2025.
- Develop utility demand side management programs for customers to improve energy efficiency and reduce peak load demand levels.
- Develop efficiency and performance measures, set goals, and track quarterly progress in reducing WAPA transmission and distribution system losses.
- Increasing WAPA’s ability for more penetration of renewable and alternative energy sources on the utility grid while maintaining a sustainable energy balance.
- Include and give priority to energy that can be saved through efficiency programs that can be offered to residential and commercial customers by WAPA. The energy savings generated by these programs can be utilized as an energy resource and an alternative to developing new generation options.
- Lowering residential, small business, commercial and government energy bills through energy efficiency. (It is all about being efficient and saving energy and money)
Residential and Small Business
- Develop programs that will offer energy assessments and energy audits at a minimal cost with recommendations on how to monitor and reduce utility bills by purchasing energy efficient products and modifying behavioral habits.
- Investigate and institute low-cost loans for homeowners and small businesses to use for completing upgrades identified by WAPA and VIEO audits. Consider offering incentives whereby loan interest rates are “bought down” in exchange for completing a certain level of energy efficiency improvements.
- Investigate opportunities for energy efficient home mortgages and small business loans.
- Continue efforts to access a higher share of LIHEAP Block Grant and Emergency Contingency funds. Develop a position paper identifying how such additional funds would be used in the Territory, their effects on the populace, existing poverty levels, and energy costs for low-income households in the Territory.
Large Commercial Businesses and Buildings
- Improve the aging infrastructure of many commercial facilities in the Territory, by offering incentives for better building efficiency and construction.
- Identify and institute loan programs for commercial business that are backed by guaranteed energy saving with short and long term paybacks. These loans would enable businesses to upgrade and maintain building systems, lighting and oversized and undersized HVAC systems that contribute to excessive energy consumption and wasted expenses.
- Encourage commercial businesses to participate in the U.S. DOE Better Building Challenge.
- Adopt and update the model Tropical Energy Code.
- Assess the adequacy of current personnel resources for codes enforcement. Conduct training for codes enforcement officials and apply for Federal funding to offer this training for architects and builders as well.
- Investigate options for low-cost financing of energy efficient construction. Consider offering incentives whereby loan interest rates are “bought down” in exchange for meeting certain building qualification standards, such as LEED® or ENERGY STAR.
- Government Energy Savings Program
- Continue to explore funding opportunities to support government agencies that want to participate in the VI Government’s Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) that save energy and make much-needed infrastructure upgrades.
- Step up efforts to carry out the Executive Order requiring the purchase of lowest life cycle cost alternatives for all government procurement, including vehicle fleets. Establish systems to verify that this requirement is carried out and provide training to help purchasing personnel meet the requirement.
- Conduct training classes on best practices for operations and maintenance of ventilation, and air condition equipment for the personnel who operate and maintain the government building equipment.
- Use a tracking tool, such as the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager or building audits with energy bill logs for each building, to track energy usage of all government buildings (2000 Square foot or greater) that use energy. Audit and track the energy use of a least 20 percent of government buildings, on a square foot basis, each year.
- Use results from benchmarking and tracking government occupied and leased building energy usage to rank buildings and identify those that offer the greatest energy savings opportunities.
- Require all new government building construction over 2000 square feet to be built to the performance criteria to men ENERGY STAR qualification or the U.S. Green Building council’s LEED® rating.
- Promote energy efficiency by making it a criterion in assessing all projects that receive government funding.
- Water Conservation and Production:
- Investigate options for a contractor-funded performance contract to reduce leaks and system losses in the water distribution system and reimburse system improvement coasts from the resulting savings.
- Re-examine the rate structure for water sales which currently offers lower rates for large water use customers. Options to consider include a tiered approach which charges higher rates as water usage increases and reducing metering increments (less than 1000 gallons) to provide greater incentive for using water efficiently.
- Expand efforts to promote efficient use of water through consumer leak detection and recycling of condensate from HVAC, steam trap, and process systems.
- Renewable Energy
- Expand the existing net metering program to include renewable energy systems up to 500kW in size for public facilities, up to 100W for commercial facilities, and up to 20kW for residences.
- Adopt the following renewable portfolio targets:
|Targets||By 2015||By 2030|
|Minimum Percent of Electricity from Renewable Sources||20%||25%|
- Develop options for utility or government administered turn-key solar water heating installations for business and residential customers.
- Electric or Alternative Fuel Vehicles
- Develop economic incentives, such as rebates or gross receipt and excise tax breaks, to promote alternative fuel and alternatively fueled vehicles like ethanol fuel blends and electric cars.
- Require all new government vehicles purchases be hybrid electric vehicles for relevant vehicle classes. Purchases of vehicle types for which hybrid electric vehicles are not available should be high-efficiency diesel powered models.
- Workforce Development
- Identify options and partners to promote and train the workforce for “green collar” jobs to develop needed resources and improve local job opportunities. Well-Trained technicians, designers, installers, and builders are needed to enact the many goals of this strategy. Work with institutions such as the University of the Virgin Islands and sustainable tourism groups to make use of or develop training and certification programs in these areas.