An independent evaluation has shown that the reliability and sustainability of electricity and drinking water in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba have largely improved in the past years. The opinions differ over whether affordability has improved. Dutch Minister for Energy and Climate Rob Jetten stated this in a letter that he sent to the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament on Monday about the evaluation of the Caribbean Netherlands Electricity and Drinking Water Law. An external party carried out the investigation.
The report showed that reliability and sustainability of electricity and drinking water greatly improved, but that opinions on the affordability differ, despite the substantial subsidies. Like everywhere else in the world, electricity prices went up in the Caribbean Netherlands. The prices of both electricity and drinking water were largely brought down with structural and incidental subsidies from The Hague in the past years.
The Dutch government will not propose changes to the Caribbean Netherlands Electricity and Drinking Water Law because the evaluation findings showed that reliability and sustain-ability goals were met, certainly the short-term goals. With regard to affordability of electricity and drinking water rates, the Dutch government also wants to await the results of the Caribbean Netherlands Social Minimum Committee. The committee, which is scheduled to present its findings by October 1, is investigating what households in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba need to make ends meet.
The evaluation of the Electricity and Drinking Water Law led to some useful main recommendations that the Dutch government will address, stated Jetten. One of these recommendations is to see how the (technical) supervision on the quality of electricity and drinking water facilities on the islands can be improved. There are also recommendations that are of a technical, administrative nature.
The Dutch government opted to stimulate central sustainability efforts, such as large solar parks and battery storage, through subsidies of in total 33.6 million euros. Of this amount, 13.5 million euros has been allocated to construct a new solar park with battery storage and a wind turbine in Saba. With this investment, Saba will generate about 90% of its electricity in a sustainable manner.
In St. Eustatius, a subsidy of 10.1 million euros was made available for the expansion of the solar park with battery storage. This will bring up the share of renewable energy to 60%. With the allocation of 10 million euros from the Dutch government, a new solar park is being built in Bonaire, which will become operational by the end of this summer. In combination with the wind park, including battery storage, the share of sustainable energy in Bonaire will go up to 80%.
Aside from these investments in central sustainable facilities, there is an interest in a decentralised form of generating renewable energy, for example, via solar panels on the roofs of houses and businesses. This aspect will not be stimulated in existing buildings.
Minister Jetten explained that decentralised sustain-ability is more expensive to construct. In addition, the utilities companies said, it puts the net stability in danger and it mostly benefits households who can afford to invest in decentralised electricity production.
Under the current legislation, it is possible to generate electricity in a decentralised manner for own use, but it is not actively stimulated. The Executive Councils of the three islands have said that they agree with maintaining the current rules and as such, the Dutch government decided to not carry out further research in this matter.
The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management invests close to six million euros in further improvements and sustain-ability of the drinking water facilities on the islands. In Saba, the water inlet with which sea water is taken in for the process of reverse osmosis and providing drinking water is being strengthened, additional water transport lines are being constructed and water production capacity is being expanded.
In St. Eustatius, the drinking water net is being expanded and improved. In Bonaire the water production capacity is being expanded.
The Daily Herald.