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Remarks by Minister of Communications and Works

Thank you Madam Chairman, Mrs. Margaret Penn

Honourable Chief Minister D. Orlando Smith

Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils

Board, Management and Staff of the BVIEC

Management of Wartsila Nederland BV of Holland

My staff at the Ministry

Ladies and gentlemen

 

The quality of life in any community begins with its infrastructure.

 

The roads we drive on; the docks we use to get from one part of our Territory to another; the airports that connect us to the world; the water system that provides sustenance to our people; the telephone network that allows us to communicate.

 

It is the hallmark of a modern and progressive society that access to these fundamental services is defined as a basic right of citizenship. And it is the mission of the Ministry of Communications and Works to ensure that the infrastructure service provided to all of our people is of world-class quality.

 

And in aspiring to achieve that goal, nothing is more important than the provision of a steady, reliable supply of electricity.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, two trends have driven an enormous increase in demand for electricity in our Territory.

 

The first has been the growth of our population and the expansion of our tourism industry. With more and more people living and visiting our shores every year, the need for electricity to meet their needs has grown, as well.

Last year alone over 800,000 visitors came to the BVI. At the same time, our permanent population continued to grow. That translates into a huge number of rooms that must be lit; buildings that must be air conditioned; and batteries that must be recharged.

 

The second important dynamic that has driven greater demand for electricity is the increased use of electrical appliances and devices.

 

Computers, televisions, stereos, DVD players, cell phones, as well as the proliferation of air conditioning units in private homes and public spaces has all driven ever greater demand for electricity. In addition, electric-powered industrial operations have all created a need for more power to meet our people’s needs.

 

 It is with this in mind that the infrastructure development witnessed here today has been undertaken. The Ministry intends to give the necessary support to maintain this electricity supply in such a manner that the demand would not only be met, but surpassed. 

 

Today’s ceremony is especially significant to me, as it signals the completion of a critical project that stood right at the top of this Government’s agenda when it assumed office 4 years ago.

 

It is no secret that in the past the electrical infrastructure of our Territory has not kept up with our changing needs.

 

As a result, there was a continued challenge maintaining adequate—not to mention reliable—electricity supply over the past years.

 

But today, we open a new chapter. With the installation of these engines, we now have at our disposal over 40 megawatts of capacity at a time when we only require 28 megawatts. That means that with few exceptions the days of our blackouts and power failures are officially behind us.

In achieving this significant milestone, I wish to thank everyone who has contributed in any way. I would especially like to recognise the BVI Electricity Corporation for its persistence and hard work that has brought us to this point; and to congratulate them for a job well done.

 

Indeed, the Corporation has taken the brunt of the public’s frustration over the years of inadequate power supply. Within the Corporation, I say a profound thank you to the staff of the Generation Department, who, on many occasions, has had to work significant overtime hours to maintain the best possible supply to customers under difficult circumstances.

 

With the realisation of today’s achievement, I am sure that you would welcome the return to some normalcy with respect to your family time.

 

I must also recognise at this time, the contribution of Wartsila Nederland BV of Holland—the supplier of the engines—who has worked faithfully with the Corporation to make this occasion possible.

 

I trust that the spirit of cooperation fostered thus far between Wartsila and the Corporation would continue to grow throughout the lives of the engines.

 

In closing, ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you of my Ministry’s commitment to building upon the achievement being celebrated here today by doing everything possible to support the Corporation in fulfilling its mission.

 

By helping them to maintain a reliable electricity supply that remains comfortably ahead of demand throughout the Territory, we are happy—indeed excited—to play our part in building a brighter future for the British Virgin Islands.

 

Thank you.

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