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  Watts New  

The new state of the art diesel generating station was officially opened by Mr. Anthony Wood, Minister of Energy & Public Utilities on Wednesday, November 9. Witnessing this historic occasion were Government officials, Light & Power employees and directors, contractors for the project, several leaders of the public and private sector, a number of our Key Account customers and various other stake-holders.

The opening ceremony commenced with the National Anthem and Welcome Remarks by Master of Ceremonies for the evening, Mr. Stephen Worme, Manager Marketing and Corporate Communications. Following the Invocation by the Rev. Leroy Brathwaite, of the Generation Department, Generation Manager, Hallam Edwards gave the Welcome Address, noting that the project constituted a major step in our goal to satisfy the demands of our customers. In a reference to the comprehensive planning involved in generation expansion, Mr. Edwards indicated that the Company had already started work on the site for a new station to be opened in St. Lucy.

The human resource component of the project was one of the major contributors to its success and in this vein, Mr. Edwards lauded the contribution of both our project manager, Mr. Arthur "Jack" Lewis and Mr. Geoff Morrison, Project Engineer for our consultants AMEC. Mr. Morrison, who is due to retire very soon, has played a part in all of the generation installations that took place over the last 30 years.

In his Address, the Managing Director, Mr. Andrew Gittens further underscored the tremendous importance of people in the success of the project. He stressed that teamwork was the hallmark of the project from start to finish and thanked the many government agencies and private organisations, which assisted in bringing the project to a successful conclusion.

The Managing Director spoke of the significance of the new generators to the Company and to Barbadians and outlined some of the plans for further generation expansion. With reference to the new plant, Mr. Gittens noted that the Low Speed Diesel (LSD) generators, which operate on the cheaper residual oil, Bunker C are estimated to be saving approximately $7 million in fuel costs per month since their operations began in May. However, he indicated his regret that since the plant was commissioned, fuel prices had increased quite steeply and rather than customers seeing a decrease in their bills, the plant served to mitigate against the increasing fuel prices. He noted that without the new plant in operation, a domestic customer paying $100 per month today would have been paying $122 per month. Mr. Gittens speech has been reproduced in its entirety in this issue.

In his remarks, Mr. J. S. Baik, of Hyundai Heavy Industries Company Limited, stated that he was happy to be in Barbados again and thankful for the level of cooperation he had received from our Company for the duration of the project. He reaffirmed his Company's commitment to maintaining the positive relations which exist between Hyundai and BL&P and assured the gathering that his company will honour the plant maintenance contract and that the new units will supply the required base load.

The 10-minute audio-visual presentation which followed Mr. Baik's remarks was produced by Mr. Winston "Jack" Dear of Videograph and narrated by Sandra Reid of the Marketing & Corporate Communications Department. It provided a historical overview of the generation installations since the 1960's and highlighted the construction and commissioning phases of the new LSD plant.

In giving the Feature Address, The Hon. Anthony Wood said that the opening of the plant was a time of celebration for Light & Power and noted that the LSD station carries the latest in technology. He complimented our Company for recognizing the importance of innovation and technology and incorporating these elements into our operations. Expressing his belief that technology should be aimed at lowering the cost of energy-related services, he said that he was heartened by the fact that the low speed diesel units, which incorporate a number of fuel and cost saving features, will improve our efficiency in producing electricity¹. He also expressed his pleasure that consumers can expect to see a reduction in their electricity bills and that the plant will allow our Company to meet an increasing national demand for electricity, projected to grow at over 3% per year with a 9% per year increase in power being demanded by the northern parishes.

Minister Wood pointed to the rising cost of fuel on the international market and demonstrated how high oil and petroleum product prices can affect the economy in terms of domestic inflation; the reduction in gross domestic product and the country's fiscal position with regard to the burden placed on our foreign exchange reserves. The Minister outlined a number of options available to government, which could be taken as counter measures, notably, a boost in oil production; enhancing negotiations with Trinidad and Tobago re the supply of natural gas; greater use of renewable energy resources, e.g. wind and solar energy, fuel cane, and the establishment of Renewable Energy Centre, whose aim will be to expand renewable energy opportunities through assessment, testing and, of course application of the Barbados model of private-sector driven energy innovation and development. Minister Wood pointed out that while these measures can certainly help in our defence against high oil prices, he also pointed to the need for individual responsibility and the promotion of a general culture of energy efficiency and conservation which would reach all corners of the society. He suggested that this programme would take into consideration such issues as finding better options for refrigeration and cooling, which tend to be the largest component of typical electricity bills. He further noted that an energy efficient programme would examine opportunities for reducing fuel consumption costs through the use of cheaper alternative fuels such as ethanol, natural gas, LPG etc.

While the Minister reiterated the Government's commitment to a National Energy Conservation Programme and its own internal energy conservation practices, what was clear in the message is that energy conservation is everyone's business. He stressed that the issue of energy conservation will require a national effort involving Government through appropriate fiscal and energy policies, and support for State agencies central to (the) functioning of the petroleum sector; (the) electricity company through the use of the most efficient equipment and participation in renewable energy programmes and the consumers who can be more efficient in the use of energy.

At the conclusion of the Minister's address, Mr. J. S. Baik was presented with a mahogany carving as a token of our appreciation to him and Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd., by our Managing Director, Andrew Gittens.

Following this presentation the Chief Operations Officer, Mr. Peter Williams, delivered the Vote Of Thanks, which paved the way for tours of the plant and a cocktail reception.