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HomeNewsLocal NewsWater and Energy; top priorities on the transformational agenda for St. Kitts-Nevis

Water and Energy; top priorities on the transformational agenda for St. Kitts-Nevis

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by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  The Appropriation Bill (2023) Budget Address delivered by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, outlines major projects to be undertaken by the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Energy and Utilities et al; in the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Presenting the 2023 Budget Address at the St.Kitts Marriott Resort on Wednesday 14th December 2022, Dr. Drew said the Government intends to fulfil its mandate of ensuring consistent supply and delivery of energy and water services to meet the national demand.

 National Electricity supplier on St.Kitts- the St.Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC) has encountered challenges with electricity output in recent times. To address this core issue the Prime Minister said investment in generators will be a priority in the new year 2023, in an effort to boost SKELEC’s operating capacity.

“Since assuming office, however, we have had to confront some pressing challenges faced by the St. Kitts Electricity Company (SKELEC). Once fully operational, the SKELEC power plant has the capacity to generate 48.9 MW. However, over the past couple of years, and more so in recent times, SKELEC has been operating at a significantly reduced capacity of 27.8 MW which is just a narrow margin above our island’s peak power demand of about 26 MW. This translates to a reality that if one (1) or two (2) of the remaining operational generators go out of service, the ability for SKELEC to meet the peak power demand would be compromised resulting in power outages.

He added “As an interim solution to this potentially catastrophic situation, it has been determined that SKELEC will move ahead with the procurement of updated generators that are more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly and reliable. The  procurement process is well advanced to acquire two (2), 9 MW generators to replace some  of the current generators which have either fallen into disrepair, are currently out of  commission or are just too old (over 35 years) to supply the demands of our developmental  needs.”

According to Drew,  the new generators will “use approximately 20 percent less fossil fuel and have  the possibility to operate on dual energy sources such as diesel and/or liquid natural gas.”

The Prime Minister acknowledges the harsh reality that the new investment in generators is “only a temporary fix” to the long term energy needs that the country desires. The Prime Minister confirmed that the Government has made efforts in ensuring that renewable energy is brought to St. Kitts and Nevis.

Our government over the next five years will take definitive steps towards realising notable green energy injection into the National Grid. Upon taking office, our government has engaged national, regional and international energy experts such as Nevis Electricity Company (NEVLEC), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Caribbean Centre for  Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE) and the Inter-American Development  Bank (IDB) to explore the possibility of financing and to seek advice on the mix of renewable energy options needed to make St. Kitts and Nevis the renewable energy mecca of the Eastern Caribbean. Madam Speaker, I am happy to report that our discussions have borne fruit. Geothermal energy has been identified as a viable option for large-scale introduction of renewable energy into the national grid. We have therefore joined forces with the Nevis  Island Administration to pursue this goal in the shortest period in the interest of our people  living on St. Kitts and on Nevis.”

 The impact of Climate Change is a growing cause for national concern. Some areas are experiencing drought-like conditions which are affecting water supply and creating ongoing challenges to keep up with demand. Prime Minister Drew said the Government of St.Kitts and Nevis, just like other Caribbean islands “can no longer turn a blind eye” on the matter of ongoing security.

“Madam Speaker, we are determined to resolve the water issues confronting us. This is the impetus for our Government to re-engage Bedrock Exploration Development Technologies  (BEAD), a company that has provided well drilling services to the Federation since 2007.  The initial engagement is for BEAD to conduct drilling and produce potable water in two  (2) communities – Cayon and Basseterre (Shadwell) where water shortage has been severe for several years. The preparatory work for the mobilisation of the drilling commenced in  November 2022 and in January 2023 the actual drilling of the wells will begin in Cayon where the water shortage issue has entered a critical stage. I assure the residents of Cayon that this new Labour Administration will not make empty promises to deliver water but will work towards securing the water resources needed to address your water shortage issues.

The Prime Minister added, ” After exploration has been finalised in Cayon, BEAD will begin drilling activities in  Shadwell which will address the water issues in Basseterre and St. Peter’s. It is envisioned that the drilling will provide approximately 1.2 million gallons of potable water per day to the system. Based on the success rate of the works done by BEAD, we will be looking at extending the  drilling in the coming year to other villages around the island to build the resilience of the  water system.”

In recent months there has been growing conversations about the installation of desalination plants to address water shortage issues in the Federation. Dr Drew informed that the Government will forge ahead with that project in the first quarter of 2023.

“In addition to the drilling, our Government will, in the coming year, mobilise plans to construct two (2) solar powered desalination plants sponsored by the United Arab  Emirates, with one plant located in Canada Estate on St. Kitts and the other in Nevis. The contract has been signed and mobilization will begin in the first quarter of 2023. Once fully operational the plants should generate 30,000 gallons of water per day which should be enough to service approximately 2,000 persons. Our medium-term plans involve exploring the possibility of increasing our water production capacity from desalination. The Water Services Department has been tasked with the responsibility to research and advise on the  best way forward for achieving greater integration of desalination into the water supply  network.”

Other measures will be taken by the Government to address non-revenue water losses. Prime Minister Drew said the Government in collaboration with the Water Services Department seeks to improve the metering and upgrade the billing system to also include a mechanism that can detect leaks.

Drew expressed that the resolution of water and energy challenges remains a top priority for the Government of St.Kitts and Nevis as they are two critical utilities that must be made available to the people.

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