US pledges support for regional energy reforms

Caribbean leaders, including President David Granger (centre), meeting with then U.S Vice President Joe Biden last year in Washington D.C. at the Energy Summit

THE United States will be looking to play a more active role in supporting the energy sector in the Caribbean by providing targeted technical support to countries with the capacity and interest in pursuing energy sector and utility reforms.
This was articulated in a U.S. Department of State report on that country’s strategy for engagement with the Caribbean. The report is titled: ‘Caribbean 2020: A Multi-Year Strategy To Increase the Security, Prosperity, and Well-being of the People of the United States and the Caribbean’.
In that report, the global powerhouse purports to have recognized the drag on regional economies due to the high cost of energy. Realising this gap, the country said that it will be aiming to tap into the energy sector by offering low cost, reliable sources of energy, including renewables and natural gas.
It was noted that this is being done with an intention to spur economic development that will create new opportunities for globally competitive U.S. energy firms and exports.
In the area of energy sector reforms, the country committed to providing “targeted technical support” to countries with the capacity and interest in pursuing energy sector and utility reforms to spur private investment and U.S. energy technology exports.
In terms of regulatory reforms, the report stated that the U.S will continue integrated resource planning efforts, and regulatory reforms. It was explained that this would be done to encourage governments and utilities to make transparent and economically viable decisions regarding capacity improvements that mitigate risk for U.S. investors and lower costs for consumers.
As it relates to regional energy planning, that country also committed to supporting efforts by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to strengthen the regional platform coordinating energy planning to achieve economies of scale.
Further, the report states that the U.S. will “leverage U.S. and international public finance resources to help energy project developers mitigate technical and political risks. This, the report added, will result in the reduction in the region’s reliance on imported fuels and create openings for U.S. private sector investment and public-private partnerships.
Just last year, then Vice President of the US, Joe Biden, met with Caribbean leaders in Washington to discuss the region’s long term approach to energy security.
At that forum, Biden had suggested that now was the time for the Caribbean to act on the basis that the cost of energy from renewables like wind and solar had fallen; natural gas technologies are advancing, providing new options for delivery from small barge shipments of Liquefied natural gas (LNG), to floating receiving terminals Trinidad was exporting; there were US companies holding licences to export gas; and the Americas, he said, had become the epicentre of energy production in the world.
He added that it was in the US’s own self-interest to see “Caribbean countries succeed as prosperous, secure, energy-independent neighbours” and as “an integral part of the hemisphere, where every nation is middle class, democratic and secure”.