A day after the 35th anniversary of the ill-fated 1979-83 Grenada Revolution which brought Electricity to Petite Martinique, it was another milestone for the small sister island as it marked the launch of another historic occasion – the launch of solar energy.
The Grenada Electricity Company, GRENLEC, has installed a ground-mounted solar system on Petite Martinique that consists of 8-yard panels that can output 30 kilowatts of energy.
The launch took place in Petite Martinique last week and a host of local dignitaries from the mainland travelled to the island for the occasion.
The initiative forms part of GRENLEC’s commitment to utilise the island’s renewable energy resources and move away from fuel generated energy in favour of electricity generated directly from sunlight.
Resident of Petite Martinique, Dexter Miller said it is a call for celebration to see GRENLEC utilising the renewable resources available on island.
“What we are witnessing here today is GRENLEC’s effort to ensure an efficient and secure energy supply and at the same time helping and reducing the island’s carbon footprints,” he said.
As Miller welcomed the initiative of the islands’ sole Electricity Company, he said solar energy is becoming increasingly popular as the world takes notice of Carbon emission.
“Solar energy is the main driving force behind all green energy technology as nations attempt to make climate change propagations in carbon emissions,” he told the ceremony marking the occasion.
Chairman of GRENLEC’s Board of Directors, Robert Blanchard was happy to address the concerns of consumers about the ever increasing price of electricity supplies to their homes.
“The price of electricity we all recognize is significantly higher than it was in the past and we know that this causes great hardship for our customers”, he said.
“I assure you that the board hears this and is taking the steps that it can to assist in this area. While there is no one silver bullet that will solve this problem, we all recognise that renewables will play a much larger and very important critical role in doing so,” he added.
Interim Chief Executive Officer of GRENLEC, Clive Hosten who also addressed the ceremony noted that renewable energy is being pursued by the utility company for the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
He sees the Petite Martinique as one that “increases our energy security where we do not have to depend on imported fuel …. and for these compelling reasons we are pursuing renewable energy development on all three islands,” he said.
According to Hosten, the Petite Martinique and Grenada projects show the financial feasibility of using solar under GRENLEC’s current interconnection programme.
He said the price of solar has decreased significantly making it more attractive for more customers to have the affordable option of installing solar essentially and interconnecting to the grid.
“Under this programme we have more than 60 customers who have already interconnected our grid producing renewable energy and this is the most in the Eastern Caribbean Island for any electric facility,” the GRENLEC CEO boasted.
One of the benefits of utilising renewable energy is that it reduces the cost of electricity, however, Hosten said this would not be the case with Petite Martinique, as more renewable energy needs to be installed.
He stated that the installation of the project “does not have a significant impact in anyway whatsoever on fuel prices.”
“GRENLEC needs to inject more renewables and a lot more renewables unto its system in order to see that stabilisation of the fuel charge and get that to a level where it’s basically the same,” he said.
Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Elvin Nimrod said this initiative is a clear indication that GRENLEC is co-operating with the government’s vision to make sure there is efficient, sufficient and affordable energy so that the country can move on in prosperity.
“We must all beware that energy is a very costly product right now and at the same time we know that it is very important because no business can really prosper or even in domestic activities, if you cannot afford energy and I know that GRENLEC understands this, and this is why GRENLEC is now moving in the direction it’s moving,” said Minister Nimrod.
There was a high level of support from both Carriacou and Petite Martinique at the launch of that achievement and speaking to The New Today was 80-year-old Alcina David.
She said having renewable energy on the island will be a plus to residents and she gave an outline of how it was for her growing up without electricity.
“I’m happy about it, I feel great, I am excited. It was difficult without electricity but that’s how we grow,” she said.
“We didn’t have any electricity, we had to put our kerosene in the lamps and that was our electricity”, she added.
According to David, residents these days are having it very easy in terms of a good supply of electricity.
Another resident of Carriacou, Brian Lendore who is the Principal of the Hillsborough Secondary School, described the initiative as a commendable effort by GRENLEC because it comes at a time when there are challenges to cope with such as high fuel charges and the impact of carbon emissions on the environment.
“It’s just good to see that somebody has come up with some idea to reduce the emission into the environment and come up with a means to generate power to supply our society with,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
“It would be nice that one day we go green, right across the board and see that it could have a bigger impact where we can utilise the sun, the solar and the wind energy or even water to generate our electricity,” he said.
The local GRENLEC boss also elaborated on this when he said the company is considering solar, wind and battery storage to be readily available in Petite Martinique.
“We intend to add wind turbine generation which collectively will provide enough electricity for the residents of this island. We would also add battery storage so that (it) can provide energy when we don’t get sunlight and when the wind doesn’t blow and we would have our diesel generators as back up, stand by just in case something goes wrong with the technology,” Hosten said.