by Christopher Barton and Lumas Kendrick
There is an inseparable linkage between the fiscal crisis confronting the Caribbean Region and the reality of paying some of the world’s highest per capita energy costs. The countries in the region are encumbered with the necessity to import increasingly expensive oil products for transportation and electricity generation. Covering the ever-increasing cost of energy places enormous pressure on countries whose national budgets are often already heavily indebted.
A new Caribbean energy future is needed today. This future must focus on taking full advantage of the region’s natural endowments of renewable energy resources as well as innovations in energy efficiency and recent developments in natural gas technology. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) seeks to assist the Caribbean region in planning and implementing the necessary changes in policy coordination, financial structuring, and infrastructure transformation that will usher in this new energy future for the region.
The IDB is organizing a regional, ministerial-level energy conference entitled, “The Caribbean’s Energy Future: A Pathway to Regional Fiscal Stability” in Washington, DC on December 5, 2013. The key objectives of this one-day event are to: (i) provide a forum to examine the issues associated with the region’s high energy costs and associated impacts, (ii) explore options for addressing this problem and, (iii) set forth a roadmap that will assist the region in developing a cleaner, more cost effective and sustainable energy matrix.
Senior-level public officials and key private-sector decision-makers from throughout the Caribbean region and North America will participate. Topics to be discussed include:
- Examining the region’s energy flows and defining the level of alleviation that energy sector changes can bring to national budgets;
- Presenting results of pre-feasibility studies for the establishment of a natural gas market in the region;
- Discussing how advances in technologies related to natural gas and multiple renewable energy technologies help to diversify national and regional markets;
- Identifying ways to advance a new energy agenda through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) and shared actions by Caribbean states with the goal of establishing a natural gas market in the region, lowering energy costs and reducing the region’s carbon foot print;
- Defining the key “bankability” requirements for the multilateral financial institutions, needed in terms of both regulatory framework and financial structuring, in order to finance potential PPP initiatives in the region.