US urges Caribbean leaders to reject corrupt energy deals

Speaking in Washington, DC after the first-ever Caribbean Energy Security Summit, Biden told regional leaders that if energy security is to be achieved “first and foremost you have to deal with corruption.”

Biden, who hosted the conference, told the leaders that “you need to be choosing projects because they are more competitive and not for other reasons.”

He called for updated renewable energy regulations, warning that, “rules need to be clear, transparent and fair.”

The US vice president said that over the last 10 years, tens of millions of dollars had been pledged and invested “but we don’t have nearly enough to show for it.”

On January 12, 2015, a new Renewable Energy Bill had its first reading in Parliament. Officials hope it will provide a modern regulatory platform for grid scale and consumer level renewable energy in Antigua & Barbuda.

In an address to mark Caricom Energy week last November, Minister responsible for Energy, Asot Michael, announced plans to establish a National Energy Council and to empowering Antiguans and Barbudans to benefit directly from our wind, solar and other renewable energy resources.

The US Vice President told the close of the one day Summit that while his government is prepared to assist Caribbean countries financially, “We are not going to waste money.”

“We are going to insist on considerably more transparency, greater coordination and changes in regulation. We are not going to replace one flawed financing scheme with another,” Biden warned.

The second most powerful man in the United States also urged Caribbean leaders to use the recent decreases in oil prices as an opportunity to make investments in renewable energy.

He said renewable energy had also become more affordable and “we are starting to see these technologies out compete coal and oil.”

Antigua & Barbuda has relied heavily of oil from Venezuela under the Petro Caribe arrangement to fuel its petroleum addiction. But the steadily falling prices of oil has raised questions about the over reliance on Caracas.

Oil now sells for US$46 a barrel when compared to US$104 last June, but residents here are yet to benefit at the pump.

Last week, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that fuel prices will drop by just over a dollar for diesel and Gasoline at the start of February.

Regional carrier LIAT has also announced a reduction in its fuel surcharge by 50 per cent.

But he told the CARICOM leaders that they needed to summon the political will to ensure success “because as we learn real and lasting progress for energy security everywhere in the world depends on more than just spending money”.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Energy Minister Asot Michael and Energy Advisor Brian Challenger attended the meeting.


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