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The visit of the Hon. Elizabeth Thompson, Minister of Energy and the Environment, to our new Low Speed Diesel Plant at Spring Garden took place on Tuesday, March 28.

Having recently been given the Energy & Environment Portfolio, the Minister had expressed an interest in learning more about our operations and subsequently accepted an invitation by our Managing Director, Andrew Gittens to join us for a familiarisation visit.

Following a walk-through of the plant, the Minister and her party were invited into the Generation Training Room, where she and those in attendance were welcomed by Mr. Gittens and invited to view a presentation by Acting Generation Manager, Arthur Lewis. The presentation provided an overview of our Company’s existing facilities and the planning processes involved in plant expansion. It also outlined a number of our plans for the future, detailing the projected growth in electricity demand up until 2012.

At the conclusion of the presentation, the Minister and Mr. Gittens invited questions from the press who were in attendance.

In his response to a question about the cause of increasing demand for electricity, Mr. Gittens noted that over the last 20 years, electricity demand has shown an increase on average of about 4% per annum. He attributed this to increased construction and changes in lifestyles, which include greater use of such appliances as air conditioning units. He assured the gathering that Light & Power is confident that it will be able to meet these demands because of our level of planning and forecasting. Adding to this, Minister Thompson noted that the Government too, was instituting policies to effect a 30% blend of renewable energy sources with fossil fuels to satisfy the nation’s energy requirements and to help to reduce the fuel import bill. Minister Thompson also went on to say that Government was seeking to introduce a number of initiatives to encourage Barbadians to re-examine their energy consumption habits and make changes, while still maintaining their own standards of living.

This is certainly good news for our Company, which already has a programme to encourage Barbadians to use energy wisely. Our ongoing Energy Efficiency campaign in the media, along with our various brochures, publications and corporate appearances at local expositions and trade shows are largely focused on energy conservation issues.

In addition, our future plans also incorporate a number of initiatives, which will seek to utilize renewable energy sources. Such plans include the development of a 10MW wind farm at Lamberts, St. Lucy and investigations into the feasibility of the use of fuel cane as an energy source. Already, solar panels have been installed at our Seawell Generating Station and at the Future Centre Trust for investigative purposes.

Our Managing Director noted that the installation of the Low Speed Diesel Plant was intended to significantly reduce the cost of electricity production, as it operates on the cheaper residual fuel, Bunker C. However, due to rising fuel costs world-wide, the role of the plant has been to mitigate against the increase in cost.

Mr. Gittens also noted that the saving in fuel cost as a result of the introduction of the Plant is estimated to be in excess of $5 million per month. This saving is passed directly to customers through the Fuel Clause Adjustment on their bill

Commenting on the state of he environment and the recent concerns with beach erosion, Minister Thompson said that she was not immediately concerned about the location of our beachfront plant. In fact, she complimented our work in the areas of planning, construction processes, environmental safeguards and impact assessment studies. She also congratulated us for our efficient operations and the myriad safety features which are evident in our operations.

We thank Minister Thompson and her party, along with members of the press for visiting with us and for taking the time to learn more about our operations and the work we are doing to ensure that we provide the most reliable and cost efficient electricity service to our customers.