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Nov 23, 2017

Harnessing Energy to Help the Community

Energy Week commenced this past Sunday, but today, a fair was held at the Biltmore Plaza to showcase the local energy sector and shift the focus on renewable energy sources. “RE-Thinking Energy: Shaping a Resilient Community” – is the theme for this year’s event and News Five’s Duane Moody found out that legislation is being drafted to further promote green energy.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

November is observed annually across the Caribbean as CARICOM Energy Month; in Belize, Energy Week is being recognized from the nineteenth to the twenty-fifth under the theme, “RE-Thinking Energy: Shaping a Resilient Community.” The highlight of the activities was held today in the form of an energy awareness fair in celebration of significant strides to transition to a sustainable energy pathway.

 

Ryan Cobb

Ryan Cobb, Acting Director, Energy Unit, Ministry of PSEPU

“Today, we have broad stakeholders of lighting, refrigeration, ACs, solar water heaters, financing and N.G.O.s such as the CCCCC showcasing the work that they are doing and the potential savings that customers can do with interventions that they are proposing.  What we want them to take away is that renewable energy and energy efficiency is no longer a niche word anymore. It is actually savings in your pockets; it is savings that you can have now.”

 

At the Ministry of Public Service, Energy and Public Utilities booth, a renewable solar power energy project was presented. The La Gracia project is a twenty kilowatt solar powered system that is currently providing electricity to forty-five households.

The goal is to get more persons to move away from using fossil fuels and tap into wind, solar and water energy that is readily available. In rural communities and particularly on the cayes and at major resorts, the solar panels system is used to power facilities. Aside from an initial investment for the equipment, it’s easy to set up, and maintenance is minimal.

 

Melissa De Leon

Melissa De Leon, Administrative Manager, ProSolar Engineering Limited

“In Belize, we’ve had a hard time because persons don’t want it and they are so comfortable using the grid so we don’t really get interests in renewable energy sources. But we do have a lot of projects, close to a hundred projects already in Belize, mostly rural. We also deal with the Government of Belize through the Belize Social Investment Fund, so we’ve installed rural water supply systems that use solar powered pumps to pull out water. But we also do island, resorts, commercial buildings, homes. What we’re presenting today is a grid interactive system and that basically functions with a solar array. Based on the needs of the client that’s how many solar panels you will need and how many batteries you’ll need as when if you want to store energy. But if you want to use this system just as a bypass to lower your electricity bill, you don’t need batteries. But if you don’t want anything to do with the grid, you can also use a solar system that stores all your energy inside a battery bank to fully power your house.”

 

But what policies or regulations are in place to encourage green energy?

 

Ryan Cobb

“Currently, the government along with the Public Utilities Commission…we are currently drafting regulations that would allow for distributed generation within the country. So put that in common words, it’s that you would be able to put rooftop solar on your homes. So we actually published a draft regulation approximately three months ago and the Public Utilities Commission is currently compiling comments right now which will then be rereleased for a final version.”

 

But if you simply cannot afford a solar panel system, a simple change of the type of bulbs you use inside your home can reduce the cost you pay for electricity.

 

Rakiem Dawson, Salesman/Electrician, SUNLED Service

“At SUNLED Service we offer a variety of service; one mainly is inspection of various businesses and installation of lights.”

 

Duane Moody

“How important is this to check your lights? Some of us like fluorescent lights, these yellow bulbs, and we don’t realize that those draw more current than a regular LED light. Talk to us about that.”

 

Rakiem Dawson

Rakiem Dawson

“It is very important to check your light bulbs because fluorescent light pulls forty watts for a four-feet regular fluorescent tube and our LED bulb four-feet tube pulls eighteen watts. So it is a very big difference; you save up to sixty-five percent on your electricity bill.”

 

Duane Moody

“But is it cheaper?”

 

Rakiem Dawson

“In terms of cheapness, it is if you watch on it in the longer run because you will save back the money every month.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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