New Business Model Inevitable For Caribbean Utilities

Acting CARILEC Chairman Eddinton Powell says utilities have a responsibility to lead Caribbean economies toward a new energy landscape.

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Friday May 31, 2019 – Caribbean
utility leaders meeting at the 2019 Caribbean Electric Utilities Corporation
(CARILEC) CEOs and Leadership Conference in St Lucia last week agreed that
utility companies need to embrace a new business model built on digitization,
decarbonization and decentralization.

Utilities are uniquely placed to
lead the transformation of the energy sector, which is currently being impacted
by emerging technologies, and experiencing a shift towards integration of more
renewable energy sources, delegates said.

The conference, jointly hosted by CARILEC,
an association of energy solutions providers within the region, and St Lucia
Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC), brought together utility leaders, service
providers and global corporations – representing 25 countries from the
Caribbean, North America and Europe under the theme “RETHINKING? Disruption.
Resilience. Sustainability” – who explored global trends and opportunities in
the renewables sector, technology, and investment demands driven by climate
change.

Acting CARILEC Chairman Eddinton Powell,
who is President and CEO of FortisTCI Limited, noted that utilities have a
responsibility to lead Caribbean economies toward a new energy landscape.

“As Caribbean utility leaders, we
can, and we must integrate more renewable energy solutions in our delivery of
service. Similarly, we can and we must be at the forefront of the
electrification of the ground transportation sector,” he said.

“These are critical imperatives
for the Caribbean, if we are to reduce our dependency on traditional
hydrocarbon fuel sources, much of it imported to the region, with all of the
uncertainties that this entails. With an energy economy led by renewables and a
transformed and electrified transportation sector, we can open the way for even
greater entrepreneurship, and ultimately wealth creation, throughout the
region.”

Keynote speaker, President and CEO of Wärtsilä Corporation Jaako Eskola, sounded a championing note with respect to the transition to renewables. He disclosed that Wärtsilä’s corporate vision in its energy business is to support the move to 100 per cent renewables.

Keynote speaker, President and CEO of Wärtsilä Corporation Jaako Eskola

“Rapid
cost reduction – both capital and operating costs – of wind and solar is
steadily making it economically feasible to deploy these technologies,
especially in conditions such as you have here in the Caribbean. I feel that
the time is not far away when wind and solar power generation will assume the
mantle of least cost generators of electric power,” Eskola said.

CARILEC
CEOs and business operators in attendance applauded a pledge articulated by
Wärtsilä’s CEO, a corporation ranked in 2018 as one of Most Sustainable 100 Corporations
in the World. 

“We are ready to assist you in modeling your power systems, help you to develop the best strategy for defining your generation mix, help you understand the impacts of wind and solar generation, and together develop the best suited integrative strategy including storage technologies and flexible power,” he said.

Last week’s conference also celebrated CARILEC’s 30th anniversary. And speaking on behalf of the St Lucia Government, Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour Stephenson King described CARILEC’s attainment of 30 years as a toast to the vision that brought the corporation into being and to its longevity, as evidence of the accuracy of that vision.

“In like manner, CARILEC must recognize that since energy is a critical driver in economic development, CARILEC and its members are essential partners in that development. Thus, given the challenges of the extreme threats of climate change for Caribbean economies, much depends on a new vision for the future of our region’s energy sector that is tailored to these times,” King said.

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