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Dominica to use geothermal energy to reduce electricity costs

Mar 24, 2008 - BBC Monitoring

Dominica says it intends to fully exploit the geothermal potential of the island so as to transform its economy and improve the lives of its citizens. "Potentially the development of geothermal resources could become the single most important economic activity on the island for decades to come," said Energy Minister Charles Savarin. "What oil and natural gas has done for petroleum-exporting countries, geothermal energy can do for Dominica," Savarin said. He said geothermal could significantly reduce the cost of electricity to consumers and would transform the island "from being the OECS (Organization of Eastern Caribbean States) state with the highest cost of electricity to the OECS state with the lowest unit cost of electricity". Trade and Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Collin McIntyre says he wants the generation of geothermal energy to remain in local hands even as the European Union announced a multi-million dollar project for the energy sector. "What I would like for Dominica is the intellectual property rights to geothermal. I want Dominica to have in its grasp what belongs to us for the benefit of the Dominican people," Mc Intyre said. Europe is providing Euro 4 million (6.16 million US dollars) towards developing the geothermal sector on a commercial basis and McIntyre said while partnerships with international firms would be required, Dominica must remain the main beneficiaries of its geothermal resource. The European Union funded project is intended to measure the size of Dominica's geothermal resource and its chemical characteristics, conduct a feasibility study to supply electricity to neighbouring islands and to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment. A feasibility study is now being undertaken on the project and would be used as a guide to lure potential investors towards the geothermal sector. "We want the investment but I don't want us to let it go completely where we have no control over it. I am in favour of keeping the benefit for Dominica," McIntyre said. Dominica also intends to export geothermal energy to the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. The Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC), which has a monopoly on electricity production, has already indicated that it wants to be part of efforts of the commercial project.

Source: Caribbean Media Corporation news agency website, Bridgetown, in English 1800 gmt 24 Mar 08