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The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Meet to Explore Collaboration in Utilities



Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta and the Office of Insular Affairs’ U.S. Virgin Islands meetings

Washington, DC (May 14, 2010) – Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta and the Office of Insular Affairs' U.S. Virgin Islands desk officer Basil Ottley hosted two days of meetings at the U.S. Department of the Interior for a team from the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (VIWAPA) led by Executive Director Hugo Hodge and a team from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) led by Roberto Gorbea of the Board of Managers and General Manager Juan A. Perez Lopez to consider an underwater connection between the power grids in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.  The meetings considered how such a connection might also affect the Caribbean region, other insular areas as well as federal stakeholders. 

Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta and the Office of Insular Affairs’ U.S. Virgin Islands meetings

"I see this as the first of many collaborations that can change the energy future for the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean," said Assistant Secretary Babauta in his welcoming remarks.  "The work we do here could also provide important models for our other insular areas in the Pacific."

Dr. Frances Colon of the State Department's Office of Economic Policy for Environment, Science, Technology and Health, who leads Secretary Clinton's Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas (ECPA), stressed how the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico could become the model for the Caribbean region and provided an overview of State's agenda which included a citation from Secretary Clinton at the April 15, 2010, ECPA Ministerial Meeting who stated, "The people of the Caribbean are creative, resilient; they're able to lead the way in new forms of energy, and we want to be a partner."

Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Tony Babauta and the Office of Insular Affairs’ U.S. Virgin Islands meetings

Dr. Steven Lindenberg of the US Department of Energy and representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory also offered their support stressing the need for open and frank dialogue among all stakeholders.  In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy chose the U.S. Virgin Islands as the U.S. pilot project with the leaders of USVI, led by Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., to bring about fundamental changes to the way energy is used in the territory.  Part of this effort includes deploying the maximum amount of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies to achieve specific and measurable clean energy targets.

Congresswoman Donna Christensen, who was responsible for providing a $500,000 appropriation for such a feasibility study, also attended as well as representatives from the Offices of the Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner and the Governor of Puerto Rico.