The government has this year allocated more money to the failed geothermal power project and just $10 for a solar power desalination plant that is to be built in Bequia.
The geothermal project was scrapped in 2019 after wells dug into the flanks of La Soufriere did not find the requisite permeability to access the energy necessary to generate electricity.
During the estimates Debate in December, opposition leader Godwin Friday noted that the geothermal power project was still on the books and has been allocated EC$120,000 this year.
“That is not chickenfeed. The 120,000 was allocated in 2024 for the geothermal project. What is that to be used for? For administrative costs? and project management support?” the opposition leader said.
“What administrative costs now? What exactly is the status of the geothermal project? I thought that was dead. Why are we allocating $120,000 to that project in 2024?” he further told Parliament.
“Hopefully, we get an explanation as to that because this, again, it seems to me it’s just a matter of maybe somebody just didn’t pay sufficient attention to say, ‘Well listen, guys, this thing is done. Let’s remove it from the document.’”
Friday noted that the government has only allocated EC$10 this year to the Bequia Solar PV plant.
“I heard about this from somebody who works at VINLEC, about a year or so ago. I haven’t seen any movement, anything at all and no wonder because in 2023 just a nominal sum of $10 was budgeted for it,” Friday said, referring to the state-owned power company.
Speaking during the same debate, MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, an opposition lawmaker also noted that the geothermal project is still on the estimates.
“Still, resources are being included for what God only knows. We have wasted, we have squandered millions of dollars in attempting to do that geothermal project, as I’ve said before, and I reiterate on the wrong side of the island,” Cummings said.
“And even today, we carry the fool a little further, taking valuable tax dollars and we steal it in the pretense that there are some things still possible. The days of resurrecting the dead they’re long gone.”
Cummings also commented on the failure of the government to allocate more money for the solar energy water treatment plant in Bequia.
“This project has been in the pipeline for very many years. The Italian government offered this country to put the funding into an excellent project that would provide more than a model water treatment plant, desalination plant and using solar energy,” Cummings said.
He said the project was so well designed that it was estimated that the solar project would provide more energy than the treatment plant would require.
“As I said this has been for several years, but for whatever reason and one only hopes is not because Bequia is NDP territory, but this government has simply not moved this project forward,” he said.
He saidnothing was done for very many years to advance “this vital project on Bequia. Nothing!
“And now that I’m seeing it coming up again. What I can only hope is that this time, it will be given very serious consideration because here is a project funded by the Italian government.”
He said that the technology with respect to desalination is improving every day.
“The technology is evolving and it’s using less and less energy. And the Italians have come up with an excellent project. All it requires is the blessings of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
Cummings noted that the state-owned Central Water and Sewerage Authority — of which he is a former manager — is the counterpart agency that is supposed to be working on the project, which comes through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Italian government.
“And this is an embarrassment to us as a people … This project t should be in the completion stage right now.”
In August 2020, then head of the St. Vincent Geothermal Project, Ellsworth Dacon said he was “cautious” in saying that the country can still see the generation of geothermal energy although the three wells had failed to produce the required permeability.
In 2022,the opposition leader said that theEC$445,000 budget that year for the geothermal project should be used to buy fishing boats.