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Commentary: St Lucia government 'wasn't minded' to facilitate renewable energy
Published on March 15, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Melanius Alphonse

There isn’t much elevate the Allen Chastanet-led administration’s credibility in claiming that “Government wasn’t minded to do a compulsory land acquisition to facilitate the project” – a $37 million investment, by US-based firm WindTex Energy, for a 12MW wind farm in Anse Cannot, Dennery, that commenced in 2015.

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Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at melanius@newsnowglobal.com
Notwithstanding, Steve DeWolf of WindTex’s presentation to the cabinet of ministers on December 5, 2016, and prior government guarantees in November 2016 that ”projected to supply ten percent of the country’s energy needs, bring stability and security to energy pricing on Saint Lucia for at least 25 years”. This now turns out to have been meaningless from a government that’s substandard in many aspects.

The climate change, renewable energy and sustainable development agenda in Saint Lucia is dismal from a policy perspective, albeit Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) invested in the wind farm project and remained “committed to being a 50 percent investment partner on the project and would like to acquire the lowest power purchase price, in order to pass on benefits to the consumer.”

In a mediocre attempt at damage control, the sustainable development ministry, led by Gale Rigobert, stated in a press release in March 2017, “It is therefore astonishing that the developer has decided to pull out from the proposed project without allowing the process to proceed.”

“As a government we are deeply disappointed, however, the government of Saint Lucia is pleased to announce that it is pursuing a suite of new proposals for renewable energy projects, which includes the development of a wind farm.”

And at the same time professes: “Government is looking to give ordinary Saint Lucians the opportunity to invest in and become partners in the development of the project, as the new administration believes that Saint Lucians must be given the opportunity to help chart their country’s destiny.”

The paralysis of another abrupt loss of investment, numerous development projects and the damage caused for generations accounts for a natural pattern of “a walking neurosis” governing the country. Moreover, in the era of the “Pearl of the Caribbean” project by Desert Star Holdings Limited, perhaps there was nothing to be gained by compromise, not in keeping with minded matters of conflict of interest that benefit friends and family.

In November 2016, there was a (now veiled) “guarantee that the government will act in real time to advance the project” and that “the initiative is in keeping with the new government’s thrust to reduce Saint Lucia’s dependence on fossil fuels. Once the “go ahead” has been given, construction of the wind farm will be completed in seven to nine months”.

Another example of speaking in tongues in the dark art of politics and policy, the latter totally absent and not a surprise.

More disturbing is the missed opportunity to deliver clean and cheaper electricity to approximately 19,000 households; provide new opportunities that will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises and create good jobs for the middle class.

It’s a real problem that’s even more consequential when government and a cabinet of ministers tell the people that they will fight for them, they will stand for the poor, marginalized and outcast, but only when it’s necessary or benefits them in some way, shape or form.

In any case, what the Chastanet led-administration says and what the prime minister is doing is different – saying whatever the hell he thinks and wants, however absurd, to the real consequences of future generations in deep jeopardy.

At the core of my article Climate change calculus, I wrote: “In the power game of climate change, resources and services must be purged from ideological short-sighted and self-interest, in order to transform economic structures for substantial investments and economic growth. It’s equally reasonable to conclude that without a principal energy policy and a comprehensive plan to deal with climate change that is legally binding with the necessary cash requirements, the game of talk and deflection will become a recurring decimal.”

There is a clear but unrecognized reality; the country cannot prosper in today’s political environment of constant reviling and upheaval. They serve no critically important economic purpose to build as well as attack our economic future.

But, perhaps we can give the Chastanet-led administration rhetoric credit for overrated actors and actresses, their shared selfishness and brash exuberance to think they alone have the right answers with a sense of entitlement.

Among others things in Saint Lucia, there is a dire need to pursue collaborative efforts of investment, science, technology and innovation; and burst into notoriety, with a marketing operating module (MOM), to drive revenue growth and renew agility.

But really, on the heels of infinite examples of government screw-ups, can the Chastanet administration fix anything?

Speaking at the unveiling of DSH phase two, he said: “It is okay to dream. It is okay to have a vision but singularly the most important aspect of success is implementation. It means that somebody has to pull the trigger at some point.” Stay clear folks!

The question surrounds Allen Chastanet's dilemma to “die dead, die alive” and who will be the “Five to Stay Alive” for the successful completion of renewable energy the Chastanet-led administration says “will be guided by the National Energy Transition Strategy (NETS), which was developed in partnership with LUCELEC last year. The NETS is a detailed energy roadmap, informed by independent technical analysis that paves the road for a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective and equitable electricity sector using the island’s local resources.”

For the untrained mind, not knowing how the equation works, this sounds like a colossal new opportunity, much in keeping in the entrapments of Fortune 500 companies: never mind government's 'alternative fact sheet'  that the country is broke.

However, in the era of the ideological divide and political babble the Chastanet administration represents, Saint Lucians yet again look forward to submissions, even in the face of their ability to contradict, restrict and prevent new insights that is not within exploring alternatives to the re-colonization of Saint Lucia, a family affair.

And let’s be clear, this is aided and abetted by an ill-defined, cluster cabinet of ministers, which qualifies as economic and political atrocities.

Until then, the logical conclusion is quite deliberate that the Chastanet administration has once again placed an undue burden on the people of Saint Lucia. Failed to act on global warming, grow the economy in a clean and environmentally friendly manner that safeguards health and wellness and renewable energy development on the island.
 
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