4101 Estate Mars Hill
Frederiksted, VI, 00840
Telephone 340.713.8436 Fax 340.772.0063
St. Thomas Office
4605 Tutu Mall, Suite 231l
Christiansted Boardwalk Gets LED Lights
Benton Construction Company of St. Croix began installing 50 new solar lights on the Christiansted Boardwalk on May 9. The LED lights and solar panels were assembled by Eco Innovations VI, also of St. Croix. The project is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The funds were administered by the Virgin Islands Energy Office through the Department of Public Works. The Energy Office granted $965,000 to DPW. DPW used part of those funds to change all the traffic lights in the territory to LEDs. The boardwalk project is to be completed before the end of the month.
Carl Joseph, left, energy analyst, demonstrates an anemometer to youngsters at St. Johns Earth Day celebration, April 20, in Cruz Bay. Molissa Brinn, administrative aid at the Energy Office, is on the right.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at the end of April announced that it has honored three individuals and organizations from the U.S. Virgin Islands with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements in protecting public health and the environment.
“EPA is thrilled to honor the work of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These Virgin Islanders have had a major impact on protecting the environment in their communities and inspire us all to work for a cleaner, healthier environment.” ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy The Virgin Islands Montessori School and International Academy has been a leader in protecting the environment. Since 2008, the school has installed solar systems that have decreased its electric bill from $84,000 a year to $0. It has also established a student-run recycling program and made teaching about sustainable energy alternatives part of its curriculum. Harold Mark Harold Mark has been improving drinking water quality for Virgin Islanders as a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources since the early ‘90s. Mr. Mark has gone above and beyond his duties as Environmental Manager of the Drinking Water Program, frequently serving as an advisor to small, isolated communities across the islands. Mr. Mark has been particularly successful at making use of federal funds used to help improve public and private water systems throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands. Marcia Taylor For the last three years, Marcia Taylor has volunteered 30 to 40 hours of her time every month to implement a grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Her work has resulted in reducing the sediment pollution in three bays in the U.S. Virgin Islands by approximately 124 tons per year. In addition, Ms. Taylor works as an outreach specialist and coordinates Coastweeks, a program that gets Virgin Islanders involved in cleaning coastal areas.
Energy Office Spokesman Connects Energy Abuse to Environmental Abuse V.I. Energy Office spokesman Don Buchanan spoke in late March to the Rotary Club of St. John about how energy use affects the environment. He incorporated into the presentation information from a course on sustainability which he is taking through the University of Illinois.
One of the core elements of that course is called the “Tragedy of the Commons,” It is defined as “Multiple individuals acting independently and solely and rationally consulting their own self-interest will ultimately deplete a shared limited resource, even when it is clear that it is not in anyone’s long-term interest for this to happen,” by Wikipedia. Buchanan told the club members gathered at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Café for the weeklymeeting that the concept came from an essay by Garrett Hardin. The essay focused on population, but many find it applies to sustainability issues facing the world today.
“The human race is doomed if it does not begin to follow intelligent principles instead of falling for propaganda and advertising,” Buchanan said. Using Hardin’s example, Buchanan discussed what happened when a Swiss community used a common piece of land for grazing cows. Buchanan said it worked fine when each resident had only one cow. He added that when one farmer weighed the benefits of adding a second cow to the commons, the benefits outweighed the losses. However, when every farmer followed that line of thinking it reached a point where the land couldn’t support the increase.
“This concept is easily related to fisheries and global warming,” Buchanan said.
Bringing his remarks to a local level, he said that consumers would balk if the Water and Power Authority said it was going to raise rates so it could go to more renewable energy. There are three approaches to solving energy issues, according to Hardin’s theory. For starters, people can take individual responsibility by doing things like recycling, turning off lights and unplugging chargers. Second, pressure from peers can convince others to reduce energy consumption. He said this can be evidenced in the environmental groups on the Virgin Islands that work together on environmental problems Last, and the option that’s more difficult, governments can regulate energy usage. However, the world is vast and people in places like China are more concerned with using their polluting heat source to warm their food than stopping global warming.
Still, change is possible, Buchanan said. In an earlier era, people dumped excrement out into the street. That doesn’t happen anymore. He explained that people need to redefine exactly what freedom is. He asked, “Who really has the right to pollute our atmosphere. Just because it doesn’t kill people immediately doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be prohibited, just like robbing banks is prohibited.” Buchanan ended his presentation talking about the extinction of various species. He said that scientists would predict that in the last century two mammal species would have gone extinct. In fact, 79 species have gone extinct. He showed a graph that showed the arrival of Homo sapiens to a continent and the rate of extinctions. The rate of extinctions always jumped rapidly after the arrival of the homo sapiens.
“Is there something connected here?” he asked.
Energy Education Week Proclaimed in Virgin Islands Gov. John P. deJongh, Jr. has proclaimed March 17-23 as “Virgin Islands Energy Education Week.” In his proclamation, the governor urged residents to “Join me in observing this week, to participate in educational and other activities scheduled for this week, and to inform themselves about the importance of energy use and conservation.”
The Virgin Islands Energy Office has joined with UVI’s Cooperative Extension Service to offer three workshops during this week dedicated in the Territory to encouraging responsible and efficient use of energy.
The first workshop is March 19, Tuesday, at the UVI Great Hall on St. Croix 6 to 8 p.m. The second is at the Nisky Center on St. Thomas 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday. The final workshop will be at the UVI branch office on St. John from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday.
The Energy Office has also scheduled several other community engagements during the week. Director Karl Knight will answer questions at the Rotary Club meeting at Bolongo’s on St. Thomas on Wednesday evening. The Media Information Specialist Don Buchanan will discuss Energy and the Environment on the “Let’s Talk” radio show on March 20 beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Enjoying Solar Energy at the St. Croix Ag Fair
Andy and Amanda Mackay of St. Croix got a kick out of seeing how a tiny solar panel could transform sunshine into the energy to run a spouting water fountain. They were at the Virgin Islands Energy Office fair tent on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Wind energy tax credits extended, but solar may still win
The bill that avoided the "fiscal cliff" at the beginning of January included an extension of wind energy tax credits.
An industry report said there are 75,000 workers in wind energy and the continuation of the credits will save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country.
Workers installing an anemometer on South Shore, St. Croix
The extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects, will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, with factories or wind farms in all 50 states.
The extension will cover
wind projects that start construction in 2013. It remains to be seen if a project can be started in the Virgin Islands by that time. Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm.
The Virgin Island Energy Office is presently measuring wind resources on the islands to see if a wind farm here is feasible.
Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the Energy Information Administration, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.
However, solar residential credits will also be in effect this year and Bloomberg News predicts that, because of the low cost of panels, for the first time in many years, more solar compacity will be installed this year than wind.