Open Letter to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit: Dominica's Geothermal Power Project
I write to give public support to the initiatives of the Government of Dominica to harness Dominica's geothermal potential with the view to providing inexpensive electricity to all consumers in Dominica, to creating an attraction for foreign investment heavily reliant on inexpensive electricity and for the enormous opportunity to sell electricity to Dominica's neighbours to the north and south. I call on my fellow Dominicans to support the efforts of the Government of Dominica, and in particular, those residents of the areas where the project will be based.
Of course, the concerns of the people should not be minimized, because there are real potential dangers for industrial accidents. There must be dialogue with those people who are genuinely concerned and they should be educated on the subject. There are nuclear power plants in many developed cities in many countries of the world; plants that pose much greater danger than geothermal plants could possibly pose. However, safety mechanisms are put in place and constantly monitored and upgraded to ensure that industrial accidents are minimized, if not completely avoided. The venture into generation of electricity from this renewable, natural resource is not only important, but in these economic times, a national imperative.
How the results of this national imperative impact the lives of the people of Dominica and the country is probably the most important concern. Whatever risk the project presents would be worth it, if the project is properly planned, implemented and operated. I see this beautiful Dominica becoming a PARADISE in a few short years, if this natural resource and the income it will generate are properly managed. In terms of the structure of the entity that will plan, implement and operate the geothermal project; you as the leader of the government of Dominica and the Minister of Finance should seek the support of the many international institutions and friendly governments that are supportive of the development of alternative, renewable energy sources, to fund the development phase of the project. The Dominica government should convert these grants into a 51% equity position in the Dominica Geothermal Company. The other 49% should be sold to Indigenous Dominicans at home and overseas (individuals, business, companies- no economic citizens, no subsidiaries of/or foreign companies) to raise the investment capital needed to finance the other costs associated with the establishment and operation of the project. The temptation to invite foreign involvement in exchange for any personal or party favours must be copiously guarded. The capital share structure should be such that, a Dominican with as little as $250 could invest in the company and get the opportunity to share in its bounty.
A structure such as the above would ensure that this natural resource, which is the patrimony of the Dominican people, remains in the hands of the Dominican people and that should be an important step towards bring Dominica's electricity operation back under the control of the Government of Dominica and the Dominican people, as it was before 1996 when the supply was much more reliable and the unit cost was affordable. No essential service which is reliant on the use of our local natural resource should be run by a foreign company. Dominica is too small, our people are too poor and our economy is much too vulnerable. The Ministers of Finance and Communication and Works in the UWP government and the UWP government should have taken note of these basic realities before selling the valuable assets of DOMLEC for pennies, after the Freedom Party government had bought it for EC$1.00 and pumped into it, several times the price for which it was sold.
PM, I appeal to you to ensure that a Dominica Geothermal Company is established between the Government of Dominica and the People of Dominica before long; that the company be headed by a Dominica private sector person; that a public sector official be made the secretary of the company and that the income generated from the sale of electricity be used to develop our country, to bring relief to our people by substantially reducing the current high cost of living, to increase the standard of living of all Dominicans, to improve the quality of life of the poorer segments of the Dominican society, and to create an economy where every Dominican will have an opportunity to be successful if he/she puts the effort. I know this is possible, and as a Dominican who has worked all his life (at home and overseas) to better the lives of Dominicans, I urge you to embrace this opportunity and make this your legacy; the legacy of your government's three terms in office. You PM, will be held personally responsible and liable as a consequence, for anything less. I am sure that Dominicans would welcome more.
Peter Azille, Sr.,
A Dominican Son of Cottage, Portsmouth
Resident in the USA