I want to commend Fortis TCI as the organizer of this event for seeing fit to host a forum such as this and for bringing together the speakers that you have today.
As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change; energy, in particular energy reform, must feature quite prominently on our agendas.
Here in our themed “Beautiful By Nature” Turks and Caicos Islands, we like many other countries are almost 100% reliant on the importation of fossil fuels which leaves us vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations that have a direct impact on the cost of electricity which then directly impacts the cost of doing business and the cost of living here in the TCI.
We like many other countries also unfortunately have one of the some of highest greenhouse gas emissions in the region, which we need to actively work to address; as reductions in fuel imports from the implementation of energy efficient and renewable energy, will greatly help to reduce these emissions and will help to improve both air and water quality.
The Turks and Caicos Government has indicated its strategic aim to explore, promote and facilitate the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technology to create a more sustainable energy framework here in these islands.
In a country which enjoys on average over 300 days of bright sunny weather, strong winds and powerful waves, there are numerous viable options that we believe can be considered.
However, government must continue its work to develop policies, legislation and partnerships in order to affect the types of changes that are needed here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
FortisTCI as the sole electricity provider here I know understands its role in the continued economic growth and development of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) and in protecting the environment and has therefor committed to working with the Turks and Caicos Government to realize its sustainable development goals.
Our combined aim we recognize must be to transform the Turks and Caicos Islands energy landscape to create a cost-effective, reliable, resilient, and environmentally sustainable system here in these islands.
The Turks and Caicos Government, Fortis TCI and Rocky Mountain Institute previously partnered to develop a Resilient National Energy Strategy (R-NETS), focused on building a sustainable, reliable, resilient, and low-cost energy future for the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The R-NETS process has three phases and is a highly collaborative process.
Phase one takes a fact-based approach and identifies the traditional and renewable energy options available for the Turks and Caicos, along with current costs, projected future costs, and other risk factors.
Phase two takes into account the technical and financial implications and seeks to narrow the potential least-cost options further to best meet the energy needs of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
While Phase three of the process will see the production of an R-NETS report and implementation plan.
Legislative reform is also currently underway to create the legal framework necessary to facilitate the types of changes that are needed.
Todays forum is a great jumpstart to the work that we are already doing.
I hope that todays’ forum is engaging, thought provoking and that it will not just result in great dialogue, but will help to drive real, meaningful, life changing, change in these islands.