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Remarks by Chief Minister: HANDING OVER OF BVI ELECTRICITY CORPORATION ENGINES

Remarks by Chief Minister Honourable D. Orlando Smith

Official Handing Over Ceremony– (Engines) BVI Electricity Corporation

Pockwood Pond, Tortola

Thursday, 10 May, 2007

10:00 a.m.

 

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning

 

Electrical power is the life blood of all modern societies.

 

Without a steady, reliable supply of power businesses cannot grow, development cannot take place, our schools, hospitals and government services cannot function and progress is not possible.

 

In the last century, when our Territory was in the early phases of our development and growth, a simple electrical generation system was adequate to meet our needs. But this Territory is a dynamic place and over the past decade our need for electrical power has grown tremendously.

 

Unfortunately, when this Government took office 4 years ago the electricity system was failing to keep up with the changing needs of the community. As a result, even as our Territory grew and the need for more power expanded, the electrical infrastructure failed to keep up. Mistakes were made, leading to the purchase in 1999 of engines that did not meet our requirements.

 

Power outages became common.

 

Once again as in days past, BVIslanders found themselves forced to rely on private generators to ensure steady access to power under all circumstances. These disruptions were not acceptable; not in a BVI that boldly aspires to achieve great things; not in a BVI that keeps faith with the hopes of generations past that here in the BVI we would enjoy a world-class quality of life.

 

That is why when this Government took office we made a simple promise: we would ensure that the power supply of the BVI would be expanded to meet the needs of this community well into the future.

 

 

 

Today, we gather to celebrate the achievement of that goal. But more than that, we gather today to reaffirm our fundamental commitment to the principle that here in our Territory the basic tools needed to thrive and succeed shall be the right of every member of our community.

 

These new electrical engines that we dedicate today are a model of efficient energy production. Together, they will generate over 40 megawatts of power, while the needs of our community now stand at just 28 megawatts. That means that these engines will not only meet the full demand for power today but will have the capacity to grow and meet the demands of tomorrow and many years to come.

 

Ensuring the capacity to expand the electricity supply to meet our community’s needs is critical to the success of this project. Because let there be no doubt, the growing, prospering and thriving BVI that we see all around us is hungry for electricity to do more and accomplish more. And this Government is proud to have in place an electrical system that will sustain the people in all our pursuits.

 

For to understand the importance of these engines, we need to think beyond the simple number of watts and imagine the critical tasks this energy will make possible.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen: The electricity that will flow from these engines will ignite the lamps that glow in our homes at night. It will drive air conditioning systems that keep our buildings comfortable. But not just that this electricity will allow life saving equipment in our new hospital to function.

 

It will power computers in our schools that connect our children to a world of knowledge and information. It will allow financial services offices to burn the midnight oil, driving the economic growth of the BVI. It will light up the welcome sign that greets the tourists who arrive on our shores, driving an industry that creates jobs and opportunities for our people.

 

And this electricity that will flow from these engines which we dedicate today will allow every part of our community, from our vibrant capital of Road Town to the smallest villages, from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke, to keep the light of progress shining and the motor of growth running strong. And it will do all this without failing or faltering, without the constant threat of blackouts or shutdowns.

 

This energy will flow with a steady and quiet hum ––a hum so low that one will have to strain your ears to ever hear it at all. But if you listen carefully, you will still be able to hear the hum of electricity flowing out from this place into our lives and you will know that that hum is a sound of hope, it is a sound of empowerment, it is the sound of a community that can achieve anything because we have at our disposal an infrastructure that makes anything possible–– and above all it is the sound of another generation of BVIslanders who have kept faith with a legacy that was passed down to us and that we cherish more than ever.

 

These engines that will be handed over are not just engines for generating electricity they are engines for progress for a new BVI century.

 

Since Anegada has a separate independent supply of electricity, I look forward to the day when at least two or three more generators will be added to our sister island to ensure that Anegadians get their own reliable supply of electricity.  I know that plans are afoot to rebuild the existing generator so there is more exciting news ahead.

 

I would like to thank the hardworking board, management and the hardworking men and women of the BVI Electricity Company who worked so hard to bring us to this day and to all those who helped make this moment possible. This is a day of celebration when a reliable electricity supply is provided for every resident of this Territory.

 

To the Minister, Permanent Secretary and staff of the Ministry of Communications, you continue to do your part to help Government strengthen the ever important infrastructure.

 

To the contractors and hardworking team of Management of Wartsila Nederland BV of Holland, on behalf of my Government and the people of the BVI, I extend our condolences on the sudden death of your colleague and I know he too played a critical role in getting this project to this stage. 

 

The people of the British Virgin Islands thank you for all that your company has done to help strengthen our infrastructure that will provide a reliable supply of electricity in this Territory.  I commend you all for what you have achieved on behalf of this community.

 

I am proud to be here today for the official handing over of these engines. This is a milestone moment for the BVI. We have been steadfast in our resolve to deliver for this community the very best – and we have not been found wanting.   

 

Let these engines power the BVI toward the future we all deserve – a future of prosperity, opportunity and hope for us all.

 

Thank you.

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