04/23/2009 Gov. deJongh Proclaims Earth Day in the U.S. Virgin Islands; Territory to Embrace Clean and Renewable EnergyPress Release
April 22, 2009
Economic Development, Energy and Environment
Governor John P. deJongh Jr. has proclaimed today as “Earth Day” in the Virgin Islands. Earth Day 2009 marks the beginning of the Green Generation Campaign, a two-year initiative to promote a new green economy and increasing efforts to reduce dependency on fossil fuels. Today’s Earth Day observance also marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement back in 1970. DeJongh said the preservation of our precious and finite natural resources have always been of paramount importance to the Virgin Islands. Those natural resources have spun the economic engine of the Territory for centuries.
“Earth Day has been set aside to highlight Planet Earth, our mutual home, and to bring a global feeling of community through realization of our deepening desire for life, freedom and love, and our dependence on each other,” deJongh said, noting that it is important that the delicate balance of nature, essential for the survival of Planet Earth and for our own survival, be maintained through a global effort involving all the nations and everyone here on Planet Earth.
This year marks a particularly significant paradigm shift in the Virgin Islands as we begin to embrace clean, renewable, and indigenous sources of energy, while weaning ourselves from dependence on imported fossil fuels for local consumption. This shift has been necessitated by the need to reduce the cost of energy, insulate ourselves from fluctuations in world energy prices, ensure the availability and security of our energy supply through diversification, and maintain the cleanliness of our air and waters. To this end, we have spent the last two years developing programs, projects, and policies that will change the manner in which the Territory addresses its energy issue.
Through the process of reading and education we can learn and become more aware about our natural environment and our role as part of that environment. Understanding the connection between human survival and the diverse web of biological life, will give us a better understanding of how we can preserve our Planet Earth.
The V.I. Energy Office, a division of the Governor’s Office, is currently scheduling a series of town meetings in order to present the results of its development of a comprehensive Energy Strategy for the Virgin Islands. This document outlines the strategic approach that the Government of the Virgin Islands will undertake to our energy demands in a sustainable and prudent manner.
In addition, the Energy Office has also been hard at work brokering a partnership between several private sector partners, the Water and Power Authority, and the Department of Labor to provide a no-interest, no money down solar water financing program. The ultimate goal of this program, the Governor explained, will be to make this technology more accessible to homeowners, as well as to provide for the creation of quality job opportunities in the solar water heating industry. The Economic Development Authority has also been active in marketing the Territory’s economic benefits to solar water heater manufacturers and this too will bode well for economic growth and job creation.
The Water and Power Authority is in the process of culminating its negotiations with renewable and alternative energy power providers. These contracts will mark a noticeable departure from our near total dependence on fossil fuels for energy.
This year presented the Virgin Islands with two significant opportunities to advance our clean energy agenda. There was the recent announcement of the Territory’s participation in the International Partnership for Energy Development in Island Nations (EDIN). This partnership will provide the technical expertise t