Is being green just a campaign slogan

Last week a sharp public exchange took place between Richard Frank, representing one of the unions of WEB Aruba NV employees, VWI, and the management of Utilities NV, the mother company.

Not for the first time.

They battled each other on the local media stage , Frank refuting Utilities NV’s authority to internationally solicit an Expressions of Interest for the creation of another Wind Park, and Utilities NV defending its rights, as it owns 100% of both Web and Elmar and can affect changes, as needed.

The union also battled the corresponding minister recently, accusing him of playing politics, when he announced he was planning a trip to visit FAC, the office of Foreign Assets Control, part of the US Treasury Department, to see if he could convince them to ease sanctions on Venezuela, so that Aruba may benefit from buying cheaper oil there. The union reminded the minister of a similar debacle, two decades ago, when an attempt at buying cheap, ended up expensive.

According to Utilities NV: After years of stagnation at WEB – that is the word they used, and a number of blackouts, change was coming, under new management, and in collaboration with Elmar and Utilities NV, they are putting a National Energy Plan in action, stiving to eliminate our dependence on HFO, heavy fuel oil, completely by 2050, perhaps earlier, and transitioning to LNG.

The corresponding minister, Labor, Energy and Integration, already stated last week that they are working on the transition from HFO to LNG.

He probably means the gas line, reportedly coming, running between the deep water harbor of the defunct refinery in St Nicolas, where ships tie up, and WEB Aruba, NV, in Barcadera, quite a distance, running through residential areas, Zeewijk, Savaneta, Brazil, Pos Chikito, and while many are anxious about the project from residents’ point of view, we don’t really hear anything concrete about the actual plan. Where will the gas line run??

Why not off-load the gas in Barcadera, we have a deep-water harbor there too, skip the pipeline?

True to being a politician, the minister promises that the transition will help reduce the price of utilities and protect the environment from excessive CO2 emissions . Big changes, are coming to WEB within the next 30 months, he says.

Whatever it is, the Union doesn’t want to hear about it, it threatens their choke hold.

And UTILITIES NV doesn’t want the consumer to help, they don’t want to loosen their choke hold.

One of my friends writes:

Am I missing something?? To be green, or not to be!

While they are talking about doing things differently, and Aruba did sign the 2016 Paris Accord pledging to combat climate chance, Elmar under GOA’s current internal policy blatantly blocks solar energy generation, by residents and local companies.

They say they are pro, but in reality, block it every turn of the way.

We must de-centralize our energy generation, if we want to become sustainable.

The major investment, should ideally be borne by the private sector, INSTEAD of an incredibly long “transition,” by LNG Eagle over 20+ years, tied to a huge investment by WEB, tasked with laying an underground pipeline from SN to Barcadera, or for example, another technology-group Wärtsilä multi million contract for new dual engines, which has been considered, and expected to be indirectly paid by local taxpayers.

A while ago, Elmar, under the MEP/Raiz administration, imposed a fee of Awg 15/month per solar/wind KVA installed for the use of their distribution network.

Clearly a disincentive, a deterrent.

It would make more sense to do the opposite, and incentivize green energy, both solar/wind. With a proper incentive the private sector will carry the cost. It would also be interested in increasing maximum solar installed capacity per household, from the current 15 KVA to 30KVA and for commercial projects and public buildings such as schools, etc.,  from the current 100KVA to a maximum allowance to 300KVA. The penalty of Awg 15 per month per KVA, must be nixed.

This penalty masquerading as a fee, compensates ELMAR for the so-called subsidized residential tariff, and protects their inefficient monopoly, blocking GOA’s on-paper-green-goals.

Incidentally, tariffs are decided jointly by both the minister of energy and the minister of economic affairs. How did the Geoffrey Wever, Raiz, a green energy advocate, agree with the fee? Did it slip by him or is being green just a campaign slogan?

GOA  must walk the talk if it really wants to promote clean energy and stop Elmar from boycotting same, and facilitate Aruba’s progress  towards sustainability.

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September 27, 2022
Rona Coster