FortisTCI President And CEO Ruth Forbes’ Address To The Inaugural TCI Energy Forum


Ruth Forbes, President and CEO, FortisTCI

Let me also extend a very warm welcome to everyone here and

online, who has joined us for this our first Turks and Caicos Energy

Forum.


Today is indeed a momentous occasion for us at FortisTCI, and I

dare say for our islands. We view this Energy Forum as a place for

national engagement on our energy future. And I am very excited

to share this moment with all of you in this room and everyone who

has joined us virtually.


Today, I am going to talk to you about an energy future that can

be very different from where we are today – a more sustainable

energy future. A future where more of your electricity is produced

from renewable or lower-carbon sources. This can reduce energy

use and cut costs, over time. Let’s face it, the cost of energy is a

concern for all of us.


I will talk about an energy future where our energy security is more

in our hands, and less dependent on external sources. An energy

future where stakeholders are aligned for a common cause. And an

energy future that fuels our growing economy, and delivers the

same safe, reliable, efficient service that you are accustomed to.

All of this, ladies and gentlemen, is possible. But it requires change

from all of us. After all, energy touches all our lives. We could not

survive in the modern world without the electricity that powers our

homes and businesses. Energy is an economic builder and driver

and a necessary ingredient for our future growth and development.


As your energy partner, we recognize the necessary role we play in

building a sustainable Turks and Caicos. We believe that FortisTCI

operates a modern, efficient and resilient utility that delivers one of

the most reliable electricity services in the Caribbean. We believe

we are well-placed to meet the increasing energy demands from

you our stakeholders, as the economy expands.


But, the energy industry is changing – and shifting more rapidly

than we could ever anticipate. Globally, the energy sector has been

transitioning to a new business model, built on Decarbonization,

Decentralization, and Digitization, or the 3Ds.


This business model is in response to efforts to decarbonize the

global economy, transition energy from fossil fuels to renewable or

lower carbon energy sources, and create green jobs. The 3Ds

require a new approach.


They call for significant change in government policies and

regulations, in relationships between governments and utilities,

and partnerships with various stakeholders.


The shift in the energy industry is underpinned by CLIMATE

CHANGE. Global temperatures are rising and have been rising for

decades. We all face the impacts from rising sea levels, more air

pollution, and more frequent and devastating storms, flood, and

wildfires. Climate change demands attention and action from all

countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The energy industry

is a critical player in carbon-reduction and climate change

mitigation efforts. And there is evidence that alternative energy

sources are already having an impact on carbon emissions

reduction.


I want to pause here to give you a bit of perspective on the rate of

change happening in the energy industry. Let us look for a moment

at the USA, which as you know is the source market for so much of

what drives our economy.


The Edison Electric Institute (EEI), which represents investor-owned

utilities in North America, has reported that 40% of all U.S. power

generation comes from carbon-free sources, including nuclear

hydropower and wind, and solar energy. Since 2010, more than half

of the new electricity generation capacity has been wind and solar.


This massive shift in power generation has been fueled by member

companies investing an average of over 120 billion dollars each

year to diversify the energy mix. In the process, they are making the

energy grid smarter, cleaner, more resilient, and secure, and

integrating new technologies that benefit customers.


The net effect is a significant reduction in carbon emissions (some

40% less than 2005 levels), which the energy sector has achieved

while maintaining reliable service to customers.


Ladies and gentlemen, the shift in the energy industry is not going

to happen. It is happening. And let us understand one thing – if we

are not part of this energy transformation, we risk being left behind.

I dare say that customer demands are also contributing to the

industry changes. Many of you in this very room understand this

very well. I know because we speak to you about our renewable

energy programs. Some of you have helped us achieve over 1.6MW

of solar on the grid through our Utility Owned Renewable Energy

program.


Just as customer demands are changing, investors are also shifting

focus. We know that ESG, or Environmental, Social, and Governance

investing, has been gaining ground over the past five years, led by

investors who want to align their investments with socially and

environmentally responsible, well-governed enterprises. Without

meaningful sustainability commitments, companies and countries

like ours could find ourselves locked out of competitive financing

options.


Ladies and gentlemen, there can be no business as usual in the

energy industry. Our energy future is not on some distant horizon

to which we can march slowly. The energy future is here; it is NOW.

It is about electricity produced from renewable sources such as

solar, wind, biomass, and lower carbon sources like natural gas,

among others. It’s about having a diversified energy mix to reduce

environmental impact, cut carbon emissions, and contribute to a

greener world.


The energy future is about electric vehicles and charging stations.

It is about innovation and technology to deliver the electricity we

need in new ways to fuel our economy. The energy future is about

finding the right mix to provide least-cost, reliable electricity in an

environmentally sustainable way.


The energy future is about PEOPLE – stakeholders like you who

want to do your part for a more sustainable world. And for us, it’s

about the employees who will be at the heart of our energy

transition. They require new skills sets, new training, and additional

access to technology to equip them for a changing energy industry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can and must embrace an energy future

built on sustainability for our economy and the planet. We have a

unique opportunity to do so and to do it right.


So today, I issue a call-to-action for a national sustainability effort

for these islands – an approach to tackle climate change and

transition us to a greener economy than we have today. We

recognize that there are no easy fixes here; but I firmly believe that

with collaboration and conviction, we can play our part in the global

effort towards a more sustainable planet.


A modernized regulatory framework is, without doubt, a

prerequisite to transform the energy sector. A new regulatory

framework will enable us to meet changing customer demands.

And it will bring certainty, independence, and transparency to the

regulatory environment.


I want to end with an assurance that FortisTCI is committed to

investing over 40 million dollars in renewable energy and lower

carbon fuel sources over the next five years. I want to close by

reiterating our commitment to partner with you to create an energy

future in the best interest of the Turks and Caicos Islands.


I hope you will see this Forum as a platform for more meaningful

conversations and collaboration around our energy future. Let’s

make this Forum the place where we commit to act, and act quickly

for our energy future and the future of our islands. I look forward

to the partnerships we will develop and strengthen here at this

Forum and beyond.

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