Sept. 30, 2007 — When radio talk show host Roger Morgan had Bevan Smith Jr., director of the V.I. Energy Office, on his show recently, he was flooded with calls — more than any other show he's done, he said.
Energy rates have almost quadrupled in the Virgin Islands in just the last four years, and people have noticed. So has Gov. John deJongh Jr., who is transferring the Energy Office to his office and out of the Department of Natural Resources, so he can focus on energy issues more.
DeJongh has also proclaimed October Energy Awareness Month, and the Energy Office anticipates this one will be busier than ever.
"The intent is to promote territory-wide awareness and implementation of energy conservation and renewable energy alternatives, in light of our limited energy resources," deJongh said in his proclamation Wednesday.
The Energy Office has adopted the national theme "Clean and Green: For a Secure Energy Future." The educational events scheduled by the Energy Office include presentations at schools, Rotary Clubs and the St. Croix Chamber of Commerce, as well as films and question and answer sessions at the University of Virgin Islands campus on St. Thomas and at the Caribbean Community Theater on St. Croix.
There will also be the traditional outreaches with staff passing out information and answering questions at post offices and stores.
"Energy efficiency is, of course, the number one issue. If we use energy wisely, we pay WAPA less for it and WAPA burns less oil," said Smith in the press release. Many residents agree with Smith.
Something new this year is a DVD produced by the Energy Office called "Solar Success on St. Croix." The film highlights how two local solar installations have become successful. The DVDs will be given free at the outreaches to anyone who is interested in knowing what it takes to go solar.
A second DVD showing solar energy systems on St. John and St. Thomas should be completed by the middle of the month.
The Energy Office is not going it alone this year as the Water and Power Authority will be promoting its Change a Light campaign during the month. On the weekend of Oct. 20 and 21, WAPA representatives will be at eight different locations distributing free energy-efficiency light bulbs to customers who show their bill and turn in an incandescent light bulb.
"We are still 100 percent dependent on fossil fuel. It is really important we change our behavior and become more energy efficient," said Cassandra Dunn, spokesperson for WAPA.
The Energy Office will also conduct energy audits and make presentations at the schools throughout the month. Staff will also be working to educate the public on the damage done to the environment by vehicles idling for long periods of time.
– "Saved by the Sun," a television special emphasizing how solar energy is becoming the economical alternative to fighting global warming, will be shown at the UVI on St. Thomas at 7 p.m. on Oct. 6 in the Little Theater.
– On St. Croix, on Oct. 14 "Saved by the Sun" will be shown at 4 p.m. at the Caribbean Community Theater, 18 Orange Grove. After an intermission, when the public will have a chance to question the Energy Office staff, there will also be a showing of "Who Killed the Electric Car?"
– Donald Buchanan, Energy Office spokesman, said the films will bring residents up to date on what is being done to break our dependency on fossil fuel and also protect the planet.
– Smith and Buchanan have scheduled several speaking engagements. They include: Oct. 5 Rotary on St. John; Oct. 17 Chamber of Commerce on St. Croix; Oct. 23 Rotary West, St. Croix; and Rotary Club of St. Thomas on Nov. 15.
– Public events where the Energy Office staff will distribute information include: Oct. 9 Sugar Estate Post Office, St. Thomas, 10 to 3; Oct. 10 Post Office at Richmond, St. Croix, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.; Oct. 12 Home Depot, St. Thomas, 10 to 3; Oct. 13 at Sunshine Mall, St. Croix, 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.; Oct. 27 and 28 at Garden Show on St. John, the Market Place.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.