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Tourism Businesses Urged to Get on Green Bandwagon

Basil Ottley speaks to the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association Friday.With the backing of Gov. John deJongh Jr. and V.I. Water and Power Authority head Hugo Hodge Jr., speakers at Friday’s annual meeting of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA) pushed the private sector to strive for energy efficiency.

Basil Ottley, the territory’s field representative for the U.S. Department of the Interior, spoke to the association’s membership about what is being done to meet the government’s goal of reducing oil consumption by 60 percent by the year 2025. He said half of the effort revolves around consumer actions such as changing light bulbs and installing solar water heaters, while the other 30 percent hinges upon the "deployment" of renewable energy resources such as landfill gas, solar and wind projects.

How the territory puts those things together is all part of the ongoing Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) program, an international partnership focused on the unique power-generation problems and opportunities of island nations, which traditionally rely heavily on petroleum. In late 2009, the United States decided to make the U.S. Virgin Islands its EDIN pilot project, giving technical and some financial assistance to help create a comprehensive energy standard that other island nations can follow.

Ottley said Friday that there was originally a push on the federal level to take the program to Pacific islands, which officials believed were worse off than the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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"It was a competitive process for the Virgin Islands," he said later. "They were looking at islands across the globe, but Hugo Hodge did a tremendous job in selling the advantages of bringing the program here. For island nations, if they don’t have the cooperation of the local utility, they’re going down a path to nowhere, so we were lucky to have him on board."

But getting the program to the territory was only the first step. Ottley said participants and organizers of the project have been meeting every two weeks to put together a game plan, which he said will go a long way toward selling the territory as a green destination and creating a local energy industry.

"We’re asking the HTA to help with the marketing of this, and promoting the effort so we can get as many opportunities as we can," Ottley said, as he talked about how the V.I. Port Authority has received $2.9 million in federal economic stimulus funds to install 450 kilowatts of photovoltaic equipment at the Cyril E. King Airport.

"Having people seeing a whole sheet of photovoltaics lining the airport as the leave and come, it shows that the Virgin Islands is seriously making the step toward becoming a green destination," he said. Ottley also talked about ongoing contract negotiations for the installation of anemometers that will supply local wind data. The equipment might be set up around the Bovoni landfill, which Ottley said is also "right in the line of sight" of the cruise ships as they come in.

Along with the potential interconnection between Puerto Rico and the territory — which Ottley said could provide a more stable energy source, allowing WAPA to focus more on its renewable energy plans — Ottley also spoke about working with the University of the Virgin Islands to create a green technology institute that would train residents to become energy auditors, technicians and managers.

"We don’t want to have to fly them in," he said. "We want to be able to create the opportunities here, so it can also be a place where people go to seek expertise."

Ottley said outreach efforts will also extend to 11 local schools, where lights and plumbing will be replaced and data collected on the resulting use and consumption.

At the meeting, Waste Management Authority Environmental Programs Director Mario Leonard also spoke about an initiative with HTA for recycling aluminum cans. The community has a chance to purchase a recycling bin from WMA for half the price, or request one for the day of an event and the authority will drop and pick them up.

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Basil Ottley speaks to the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association Friday.With the backing of Gov. John deJongh Jr. and V.I. Water and Power Authority head Hugo Hodge Jr., speakers at Friday's annual meeting of the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA) pushed the private sector to strive for energy efficiency.

Basil Ottley, the territory's field representative for the U.S. Department of the Interior, spoke to the association's membership about what is being done to meet the government's goal of reducing oil consumption by 60 percent by the year 2025. He said half of the effort revolves around consumer actions such as changing light bulbs and installing solar water heaters, while the other 30 percent hinges upon the "deployment" of renewable energy resources such as landfill gas, solar and wind projects.

How the territory puts those things together is all part of the ongoing Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN) program, an international partnership focused on the unique power-generation problems and opportunities of island nations, which traditionally rely heavily on petroleum. In late 2009, the United States decided to make the U.S. Virgin Islands its EDIN pilot project, giving technical and some financial assistance to help create a comprehensive energy standard that other island nations can follow.

Ottley said Friday that there was originally a push on the federal level to take the program to Pacific islands, which officials believed were worse off than the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"It was a competitive process for the Virgin Islands," he said later. "They were looking at islands across the globe, but Hugo Hodge did a tremendous job in selling the advantages of bringing the program here. For island nations, if they don't have the cooperation of the local utility, they're going down a path to nowhere, so we were lucky to have him on board."

But getting the program to the territory was only the first step. Ottley said participants and organizers of the project have been meeting every two weeks to put together a game plan, which he said will go a long way toward selling the territory as a green destination and creating a local energy industry.

"We're asking the HTA to help with the marketing of this, and promoting the effort so we can get as many opportunities as we can," Ottley said, as he talked about how the V.I. Port Authority has received $2.9 million in federal economic stimulus funds to install 450 kilowatts of photovoltaic equipment at the Cyril E. King Airport.

"Having people seeing a whole sheet of photovoltaics lining the airport as the leave and come, it shows that the Virgin Islands is seriously making the step toward becoming a green destination," he said. Ottley also talked about ongoing contract negotiations for the installation of anemometers that will supply local wind data. The equipment might be set up around the Bovoni landfill, which Ottley said is also "right in the line of sight" of the cruise ships as they come in.

Along with the potential interconnection between Puerto Rico and the territory -- which Ottley said could provide a more stable energy source, allowing WAPA to focus more on its renewable energy plans -- Ottley also spoke about working with the University of the Virgin Islands to create a green technology institute that would train residents to become energy auditors, technicians and managers.

"We don't want to have to fly them in," he said. "We want to be able to create the opportunities here, so it can also be a place where people go to seek expertise."

Ottley said outreach efforts will also extend to 11 local schools, where lights and plumbing will be replaced and data collected on the resulting use and consumption.

At the meeting, Waste Management Authority Environmental Programs Director Mario Leonard also spoke about an initiative with HTA for recycling aluminum cans. The community has a chance to purchase a recycling bin from WMA for half the price, or request one for the day of an event and the authority will drop and pick them up.