Chris says govt’s reliance on GEBE for power crisis solution problematic

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~ Lack of renewable energy solution glaring ~

MP Christophe Emmanuel, the lone Member of Parliament to propose a solution to the GEBE power crisis, stated on Tuesday that he must distance himself from the St. Maarten government’s approach to dealing with the matter. The MP said he is critical of the method because the government relies too heavily on information provided by GEBE and the lack of a plan to finally shift to renewable energy sources.  “GEBE lies to the people of St. Maarten to protect itself. I cannot believe a word GEBE tells me,” the MP said.

As a short-term-solution to the crisis, MP Emmanuel had also proposed bringing in containerized generators to complement the diesel generators that are still online. According to the MP, the firm that he had contacted in Trinidad, through the government of Trinidad, could have been on St. Maarten and operation within 6 days.

The current containerized proposal as presented by prime Minister Luc Mercelina on Tuesday, on suggestion by GEBE, will have to be rented for US $1.9 million for three months with a delivery date of about five weeks. In other words, they won’t be operational until the first week of August approximately.

Moreover, the MP said, he does not believe in the long-term plan of spending US $14 million each on three heavy fossil fuel generators for St. Maarten. He questioned why GEBE would, in the face of local international recommendations for a turn towards renewable energy, once again invest in diesel fuel generators. He was critical of GEBE for saying it has invested in renewable energy but when asked how, when, and where, GEBE has no answers.

In this context, the MP reminded Parliament of Eu Commission position and the current framework of EU cooperation with St. Maarten, which is set in the Decision on the Overseas Association including Greenland (DOAG) adopted on 5 October 2021, which aims to support the government in its efforts to promote sustainable development.

For the 2021-2027 period, the main sector of intervention is sustainable and resilient energy (EUR 7.7 million), where the focus is on moving away from polluting diesel fuel generators towards renewable energies.

The choice of supporting sustainable and resilient energy as well as cross-border cooperation is in line with the goals and cooperation areas set out by the DOAG. Furthermore, sustainable, and resilient energy is one of the top priorities of the European Commission, linked to the objectives of the Green Deal and to Global Gateway investment priorities, especially when it comes to investment in clean energy.

“And we have heard nothing from GEBE on its long-term plans in keeping with renewable energy approaches. Waste to energy has been tabled and will solve our waste problem and our energy problem. There is solar and many other options. But we get a solution of three diesel engines at $14 million apiece,” the MP said.

“I am not distancing myself from the government, but from its approach which relies on information from GEBE, a company that has proven to be secretive and outright lies to the people of St. Maarten. I believe this approach would cost the people of St. Maarten dearly while they are already suffering by spending the little disposal income they have on items that GEBE’s power outages are destroying. Our people are the only ones who will continue to suffer,” the MP concluded.