St. Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) commissions 3 MW Solar Farm in La Tourney, View Fort, April 2018--the first utility-scale solar plant in St. Lucia. Photo source: St. Lucia Times
Collaboration Between Government and Utility Increases Renewable Energy in St. Lucia.
St. Lucia Electricity Services (LUCELEC) and the Government of St. Lucia have partnered to increase renewable energy generation and build the nation’s first utility-scale 3 megawatt (MW) solar plant. The solar plant will generate approximately 1.3% of annual electricity demand in St. Lucia.
The project demonstrates what can be accomplished when utilities, government, and other stakeholders work together to achieve mutual goals for a sustainable energy future.
Since 2016, the Government of St. Lucia and LUCELEC—the nation’s sole electric utility—have worked collaboratively to develop and act on a joint National Energy Transition Strategy. Their goal is to reform the energy sector, increase renewable energy generation, contain electricity costs, maintain reliability, and reduce dependence on fuel imports.
Together, they are pursuing a course that has completed the construction of St. Lucia’s first utility-scale 3 MW solar plant in La Tourney, View Fort, which was commissioned in April 2018. Opportunities for wind and geothermal generation projects are also being explored to further diversify St. Lucia’s energy portfolio.
St. Lucia’s collaborative approach to increasing renewable energy cost-effectively provides a model for other small island states. In fact, Grenada was on a similar path to energy sector reform with Grenlec and the Government working with independent external advisors, including the U.S. sponsored Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, and more recently with Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMI-CWR).
The process stopped when Government passed new electricity legislation without engagement with Grenlec: 2016 Electricity Act (EA) and the 2016 Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act (PURCA). Unfortunately, given the regulatory and commercial uncertainty caused by the legislation, Grenlec’s plans for additional significant investments in new solar and wind projects have been stalled.
Had the collaborative path been followed in Grenada, today, the nation would be much closer to achieving a more diversified energy portfolio.
Despite the Government of Grenada’s withdrawal from collaborative energy sector reform, Grenlec still believes that a cooperative process is the most effective way to positively impact the nation’s energy future and develop solutions that are in the best interests of our people. Grenlec hopes that a return to more collaboration will transpire in the future.
A Role Model for Transitioning the Energy Sector in the Caribbean
As outlined in Developing the Saint Lucia Energy Roadmap, St. Lucia aims to stabilise electricity prices and lessen dependence on fuel imports with a goal of 35 percent renewable energy generation by 2035.
With expert analysis from RMI-CWR, the Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), and feedback from the public, LUCELEC and the Government of St. Lucia have worked collaboratively to achieve mutual goals for sustainable, reliable, and cost-effective electricity.
Highlights from Developing the Saint Lucia Energy Roadmap:
• The most efficient, strategic, beneficial way to lower energy costs and increase renewable energy is for government to collaborate closely with the nation’s electric utility.
• A high degree of utility ownership facilitates the lowest cost of operating the electric system.
• The economically optimal system is a portfolio of solar, wind, energy storage, energy efficiency, and existing diesel generation.
It is evident that the efforts of St. Lucia’s government, LUCELEC, energy advisors and stakeholders who worked cooperatively and collaboratively to develop and act on the vision for St. Lucia’s sustainable energy future are producing real results.
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