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CARILEC hails 2021 as a year of progress despite challenges

CARILEC hails 2021 as a year of progress despite challenges
Meeting between CARILEC & High Commission of Canada

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Electricity Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC), says throughout 2021, it has remained true to its mandate of being the premiere electric energy solutions hub in the Caribbean. The Association said in a release that it has successfully weathered the challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic; including a rapidly evolving events management sector, a significant adjustment to working remotely, and diversifying its offerings to effectively accommodate all members. Despite these difficulties, the Association has persevered and is concluding 2021 with much to be celebrated. These significant milestones include the commencement of the construction on a new CARILEC headquarters building with sustainable energy features, an impressive virtual event attendee record of over 1,600 conference and seminar attendees, and the strengthening of key partnerships with the Government of Canada, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, to name a few.

From the first quarter of 2021, CARILEC said it embarked on a vigorous marketing campaign to promote 12 conferences and seminars for the year. This campaign included the redesigning and modernising of all promotional materials, to present a modern online presence, while retaining the organisation’s trusted corporate image. This strategic decision was well received by the membership, as the Association recorded 1,635 virtual event attendees throughout the year and several event sponsorships, achieving an overall rating of 80% for event value and satisfaction. CARILEC extends its sincere gratitude to all sponsors for their generous contributions towards our events’ success and their overall support of the Caribbean’s electric energy sector. The first quarter also marked the launch of an automated utility benchmarking platform, for the secure submission, processing and visualisation of relevant data and predefined Key Performance Indicators (KPI), with over 20 member utilities participating in this initiative.

The second quarter commenced with a celebration of the groundbreaking of CARILEC’s new headquarters building in Castries, St. Lucia on April 9, 2021. The event was streamed live on the Association’s social media platforms with remarks from key stakeholders. Also in April, following the explosive eruption of La Soufriere Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Thomas Mitschke, CARILEC’s Energy Solutions Advisor (ESA) accompanied a Detailed Damage Assessment Team (DDAT) to the state. The team comprised specialists from CARILEC, CDEMA, CARPHA, CARDI, the RSS, FAO, PAHO and UNICEF. Mitschke conducted a damage assessment of the electricity sector in SVG and presented a formal report to CDEMA and the SVG Government.

CARILEC also prioritised its corporate social responsibility mandate, providing a donation in kind to the renal unit of the Owen King European Union Hospital in St. Lucia, in collaboration with the Lions Club of St. Lucia. The Association is keen on partnering with other local and regional non-profit organisations to assist communities as needed. The quarter concluded with CARILEC delivering a presentation on its Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) at the popular CANTO webinar series, ‘CANTO Conversations’. This episode focused on ‘Unique Pandemic Lessons to Better Prepare for Multi-hazards’. The webinar also featured presentations from CDEMA’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Riley and CANTO’s Chair of the Disaster Risk Management Committee, Heather Wallen-Bryan.

The highlight of the Association’s third quarter was the hosting of the CARILEC Renewable Energy and Smart Grid Conference which attracted eight valued sponsors, including the Government of Canada. The Canadian government has partnered with CARILEC to provide various forms of support and assistance to the Caribbean’s electric energy sector, especially as it relates to the transition to renewable energy. Additionally, CARILEC has partnered with the following developmental organisations by securing grant funding of approximately US$1.5 million for the advancement of initiatives in keeping with its strategic objectives, including contributions to approximately 20% of total payroll cost of the Secretariat, through the following:

European Union (EU) funded Caribbean Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) Resilience, Sustainable Energy and Marine Biodiversity Programme (RESEMBID) under the project title: “Overcoming Disruptions in times of Crisis: Weathering Social and Financial Impact of COVID-19 on the Electricity Sector”.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH: “Capacity Building for Climate Resilient Energy Supply” and;
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Technical Assistance Grant for “Capacity Building Support to CARILEC/CAREC”.

CARILEC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Members was held on September 28, 2021. The elections conducted at the AGM resulted in three outstanding and eminently qualified female CEOs being appointed as Directors on the Board, a significant milestone for the Association and its members. Newly elected Board Directors for the period 2021 to 2024 include: Ruth Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of FortisTCI Ltd.; Solange Bertilia McKenzie, General Manager of Dominica Electricity Services Limited (DOMLEC); and Wayne Caines, President of Bermuda Electric Light Company (BELCO). Newly elected Independent Power Producers (IPP) Directors for the period 2021 to 2022 include Jacqueline Look-Loy, General Manager of Trinity Power Limited, and Wayne McKenzie, President and CEO of Jamaica Energy Partners, elected as the Alternate IPP Director.

The final quarter also marked the commencement of the Emergency Response Strategy and Action Plan (ERSAP) for the Caribbean’s Energy Sector, a consultancy assignment to be managed by CARILEC. The project’s main aim is to strengthen the capacity for emergency response in the Caribbean’s energy sector through improved cross-sectoral co-ordination and regional co-operation. ERSAP will be developed on behalf of the Regional Task Force for Climate Resilient Energy Supplies, chaired by the CARICOM Secretariat, and funded by GIZ. In this quarter the Association also noted a record attendance of 73 virtual attendees at the CARILEC Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Symposium, the highest in several years. This record-setting attendance has been attributed to the GIS vegetation management training offered as part of the symposium and the expert presentations delivered on practical GIS solutions for utilities and other organisations in the sector.

While 2021 presented multiple challenges for the Association, CARILEC has held true to its core values of collaboration, innovation and agility, high ethical and professional standards, and social and environmental responsibility, which resulted in substantial progress in several key initiatives and partnerships, and tremendous optimism for an even more successful 2022.

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