DE RUEHWN #0533/01 0861238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271238Z MAR 06
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2173
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BRIDGETOWN 000533
OES/PCI FOR LYNN LEWIS WHA/CAR FOR BOB COLLINS EB/ESC/IEC/EPC FOR MATT MCMANUS WHA/EPSC FOR FAITH CORNEILLE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: SENS SOCI EAID EPET TRGY ENRG XL CU VE SUBJECT: EASTERN CARIBBEAN ALTERNATIVE ENERGY POSSIBILITIES
REF: A. SECSTATE 36153
B. BRIDGETOWN 530
C. BRIDGETOWN 178
D. 05 BRIDGETOWN 2377
1. (U) This message is in response to the action request in Ref A. See contact list in paragraph 9.
2. (SBU) Summary: The Eastern Caribbean is a land of missed opportunities for alternative energy. High oil prices, however, have recently brought the issue to the forefront. This is a very timely initiative, given Venezuela's PetroCaribe energy deal and new Cuban lightbulb aid (Ref B). Post looks forward to actively cooperating with the Department to encourage greater use of alternative energy in the region. Paragraph 9 provides a list of potential contacts from the Barbados public and private sectors for engagement on sustainable alternative energy issues. End Summary.
3. (U) Despite the potential to use wind farms, water power, geothermal power, Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC), and sugar cane ethanol for energy, the Eastern Caribbean countries rely almost exclusively on diesel fuel from Trinidad to generate electricity. (Note: Dominica, where hydroelectric stations provide around forty percent of the island's energy, is a notable exception. End Note.) Sustained high oil prices, however, may make renewable energy alternatives more attractive.
4. (SBU) Post has been actively engaged with the alternative-energy community in the Eastern Caribbean and wholeheartedly welcomes this USG initiative. Through his PetroCaribe plan offering Caribbean countries soft loans to buy Venezuelan oil, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cast himself as the region's savior, while castigating the USG and U.S. energy companies as greedy imperialists (Ref D). Cuba has also recently pledged to supply energy-efficient lightbulbs to Antigua, Grenada, and St. Vincent (Ref B). For these reasons, a USG alternative energy initiative as part of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development could simultaneously help the environment, improve our standing in the region, and attract support and funding from U.S. energy companies.
Regional Efforts and Obstacles
5. (SBU) Most Eastern Caribbean governments are not very environmentally sensitive and have not even implemented basic environmental strategies such as recycling and vehicle emissions standards. High petroleum prices, however, have suddenly pushed the issue of alternative energy to the top of government agendas.
6. (U) Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur devoted a significant portion of his January budget speech (the Eastern Caribbean version of a "State of the Union" address) to alternate energy incentives (Ref C). He pledged to lower import duties on energy-saving lightbulbs and construction materials and also promised to make tax deductible the cost of a home energy efficiency audit. In addition, he pledged to spend US$150 million to shift the highly inefficient sugar industry to the production of ethanol and fuel cane. Other commentators on the sugar industry in Barbados have suggested ramping up rum production and creating more high-value items such as sugar cane brandy.
7. (U) A U.S. energy company that has the monopoly on electricity production in Dominica and Grenada generates around forty percent of Dominica's electricity from the island's plentiful running water. St. Vincent produces a small amount of hydroelectric power as well. In addition, St. Lucia, Dominica, and St. Kitts are cooperating with a Global Environmental Fund-financed study looking into the feasibility of geothermal energy on the islands. The French government and the Organization of American States are also supporting this geothermal project.
8. (U) Officials in Dominica have said they would like to export electricity to the neighboring islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. General Electric (GE) has sent technical experts and salespersons to several of the islands to pitch GE's alternative energy and water treatment products. To help stimulate discussion of alternative energy, Post recently sponsored a trip by the head of the American
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Hydrogen Association, Roy McAlister, to give the keynote address at the annual Barbados Sci/Tech Green Expo.
9. (U) In accordance with the action request in reftel, Post recommends the following contacts for participation in the Department's initiative:
Elizabeth Thompson-McDowald Minister of Energy and the Environment Government of Barbados Tel: 246-467-5700
Lionel Nurse Permanent Secretary Ministry of Energy and the Environment Government of Barbados Tel: 246-467-5700
William Hinds Ministry of Energy and the Environment Government of Barbados Tel: 246-467-5700 Email: email@example.com
Leonard Nurse Senior Lecturer Center for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES) University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Barbados Tel: 246-417-4344 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leo Moseley Deputy Principal University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus, Barbados Email: email@example.com
Dr. Hugh Sealy Chairman National Commission for Sustainable Development Barbados Email: HSealy@newwaterinc.com
Rawleston Moore Private Consultant Barbados Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vincent McLean Managing Director Aqua Sol Components Barbados Tel: 246-428-0255
James Husbands Managing Director Solar Dynamics Ltd. Barbados Tel: 246-425-1540 Alternate Tel: 246-425-3264
10. (SBU) Comment: Venezuela's PetroCaribe initiative has grabbed most of the energy headlines, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has cast himself as the only political leader who cares about the high energy costs these small islands are facing. Cuba's recent entry into the energy-aid game as a lightbulb supplier ups the ante. The U.S. cannot match Chavez's offer of concessionary oil financing, but we could help promote alternative energy and help connect leading alternative energy companies in the U.S. with local electric companies. These partnerships could well bear fruit and increase U.S. influence in the region. U.S.-based energy companies in the Eastern Caribbean, such as ChevronTexaco and
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ExxonMobil, would likely support this program to counter Chavez. End Comment.