Project Manager of the Sustainable Energy Investment Program in Barbados, Keisha Reid is happy. One of her toughest assignments, getting hoteliers to sign on to the Energy Smart Fund, has finally borne fruit. On Thursday, July 16, Reid took the media, officials from other government agencies and the IDB, including Country Representative, Joel Branski, and Caribbean Regional Department Manager, Gerard Johnson on a tour of the Barbados Beach Club, Christ Church to see the project in action.
Barbados Beach Club is an all-inclusive 110-room hotel. It received a BDS$1.5 million loan from the Smart Fund to retrofit its hotel rooms with renewable and energy efficient technology. Tour guide, Managing Director, Felix Broome of the hotel told the officials that his hotel has seen a significant reduction in its energy bill, which represents approximately 37%-40% of his overall operating costs. All the rooms are being retrofitted with new energy efficient television sets, refrigerators, light bulbs and air conditioning units. In addition, Broome explained that the main lighting source was solar panels and there was no longer any use for the traditional solar water heating since the energy generated from the AC units also heated water that is now stored in the old solar water heating tanks.
Broome said that the hotel did not have “green status” but has always done environmentally friendly initiatives like the separation of waste, reusing items that can be reused and incorporating as much greenery on the premises as possible. It is expected that other hoteliers would follow Broome’s example and take advantage of the low-interest loan offered through the Smart Fund and implemented by the Enterprise Growth Fund Limited.
In addressing the media, Manager of the Caribbean Department of the IDB Gerard Johnson said that this was a demonstration project for the rest of the region. He commended the government for its success and on being able to pass on the IDB’s low interest rate to borrowers. “Our loans are highly concessional, 25-year amortization, five years grace period, and our interest is just over 1%. It is interesting that the government was able to pass on favorable terms as a way of introducing this new business idea that conservation is just as good a project as expansion” Johnson said.
The Caribbean reports some of the world’s highest electricity rates, with customers paying more than US$ 0.40 per kilowatt/hour compared to US$ 0.10 per kilowatt hour in North America. Thanks to the Energy Smart Fund, Caribbean hotel owners have discovered that focusing on energy efficiency can produce substantial financial savings that help preserve jobs while helping the environment.