“We’re not here to tell the V.I. policy makers what to do. Our goal is to provide expertise,” said Ottley, who is the field representative for the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs.
Energy Development in Island Nations, better known by its acronym EDIN, is an international partnership that helps islands across the globe adopt energy efficiency measures and deploy renewable energy technologies.
Half of the territory’s 60-percent reduction in fossil fuel usage will come from increased energy efficiency. Ottley said this includes things like changing lights and having WAPA work more efficiently. He said that WAPA’s efforts will account for 16 percent of that 30 percent.
The other 30 percent is harder and will cost money, Ottley said. It will come through the development of renewable energy. It’s not a simple process and comes with challenges related to the territory’s electrical grid. Ottley said that the grid can’t handle power fluctuations that come with renewable energy, so that problem must be solved.
Work has begun on how to utilize wind power. Ottley said that anemometers, which measure wind speed, will be installed at numerous locations to develop data on the territory’s wind capabilities. He expects the anemometers to be in place by the end of the year.
EDIN is also pushing ahead on the solar front. To combat the lack of space to house a utility-grade solar system, Ottley said it’s looking at “packaging” together an array of government and private commercial building roofs to house a large-scale solar system.
The packaged roofs will generate 10 megawatts of power on St. Thomas and an equal amount on St. Croix. He said that at peak operation, St. Croix consumes 55 megawatts and St. Thomas 88 megawatts, so the solar will account for a significant amount of the power.
Other ways to meet the 30 percent goal for alternative energy including utilizing landfill gas.
Ottley also spoke about the possibility of creating a grid that connects Puerto Rico to both St. Thomas and St. Croix, and St. Thomas to the British Virgin Islands.
He also noted that Puerto Rico has plenty of natural gas. “It’s a heck of a lot lower in price than fossil fuel,” he said.
According to Ottley, EDIN initially looked at the Pacific territories to develop its pilot energy program. He said the fact that Hugo Hodge Jr. headed WAPA convinced officials to instead pick the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“He’s committed to renewable energy,” Ottley said.
This prompted IGBA member Maggie Day to comment later that she thought WAPA was opposed to renewable energy.
“WAPA is challenged by politics from old years,” Ottley responded.
IGBA members also heard from Miguel Quinones of the V.I. Energy Office. He spoke about the agency’s efforts to reduce governmental, commercial and residential energy consumption.
He suggested that residential owners install electric meters in their houses so they can monitor their energy usage.
Sean Corsaut, president of Horizon Energy Systems VI, discussed various means of reducing energy usage during construction or through a retrofit.
To learn more about the EDIN program, visit www.edinenergy.org.