Biden promotes Caribbean energy security

Vice President Biden speaks with Dominica's Foreign Minister Francine Baron as they pose with Caribbean leaders at an energy summit. (© AP Images)

Vice President Biden says that energy security in Caribbean and Central American nations is a significant issue for the United States and the Western Hemisphere.

Speaking at the Caribbean Energy Security Summit in Washington January 26, Biden told regional leaders that efforts to adopt alternative energy sources and rely less on costly diesel-powered energy-generation plants helps reduce oil dependence while enhancing energy and economic security.

 “It’s profoundly in the self-interest of the United States to see the Caribbean countries succeed as prosperous, secure, energy-independent neighbors – not a world apart, but an integral part of the hemisphere, where every nation is middle class, democratic and secure.” – Vice President Biden

With oil prices falling to less than $50 a barrel and the ascendancy of the Americas as the epicenter of energy production, these changes create “a moment of energy opportunity that hasn’t existed,” Biden says.

Caribbean leaders, U.S. officials and representatives from the European Union, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, the United Nations, and the Inter-American Development Bank talked about strategies to diversify energy sources.  And the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is intensifying its focus on developing clean-energy projects in the Caribbean.

OPIC also announced that it was distributing approximately $43 million in financing for Blue Mountain Renewables’ 34-megawatt wind project in Jamaica.

“When construction begins in June, this project will be a tangible example of public and private sectors in both countries working in harmony – and nearly $90 million of investment in Jamaica’s economy, which also will ease Jamaica’s dependence on fossil fuels,” according to the White House.  The United States is also deepening its commitment to the Caribbean through the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas initiative and other mechanisms.

Biden told leaders that one of the reasons for the energy summit was to help them create the conditions where their countries can attract private-sector investment. Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie told summit leaders that the 20 members of the Caribbean Community, or CARICOM, depend on imported oil and petroleum products for 90 percent of their energy needs, according to news reports.