US offers actually helpful energy aid for Caribbean

The US is offering to pick up where Venezuela’s PetroCaribe has left off, by offering financial aid for Caribbean nations that want clean energy. Solar and wind resources in the Caribbean are huge, and unlike cheap oil, they are likely to last for the next few million years.

Here’s a note just posted by the White House (hat tip to Boz, who tweeted it and is probably writing a more insightful note on the topic at this moment):

Today, President Obama met with Caribbean leaders in a U.S.-CARICOM Summit in Kingston, Jamaica… Discussion focused on the importance of improving energy security, reducing energy costs, and fighting climate change… Initiatives:

Clean Energy Finance Facility for the Caribbean and Central American (CEFF-CCA): The United States will launch a $20 million facility to encourage investment in clean energy projects…

Clean Energy Finance: In January, OPIC formed a dedicated financing and insurance team to advance development of the Caribbean renewable energy sector. OPIC is in advanced talks to finance a 20 MW solar farm in Jamaica, and has already committed financing to Jamaica’s largest private-sector wind farm, a 36 MW facility in Malvern, St. Elizabeth Parish. OPIC is actively looking for opportunities to support solar and wind energy projects in Jamaica and throughout the broader Caribbean region…

Clean Energy Economy Transition: The Department of Energy assembled U.S. and Caribbean stakeholder working groups to look at opportunities ranging from clean energy, efficiency, diversifying electricity generation, clean transportation and energy education, at the Caribbean Clean Energy Technology Symposium, held in St. Thomas in March…

Greening Tourism: … Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CHEER) initiative, which supports projects to improve energy and water efficiency as well as the exchange of best practices in the hotel and tourism industry. USAID is launching a complementary project focused on the Eastern Caribbean that will develop new financing tools for energy efficiency and renewables.

I am skeptical of PetroCaribe because I don’t like anything that encourages poor people or countries to increase their fossil fuel dependence. Oil is likely to get more expensive over time and even if it doesn’t, burning oil and gas contributes to climate change and increase dependence on global trade, both of which are especially risky for small island countries.

I know the US is doing this out of self-interest, both trying to get brownie points with small countries that have votes at the UN, OAS, etc. and also trying to expand markets for big solar and wind companies. I’m sure there will be criticism of the program because it’s not altruistic, while PetroCaribe arguably is/was. But if that’s the best criticism of this project, bring it on. A world full of that sort of problems would be a world I’d be happy to live in.

In a way, this is the best possible result of PetroCaribe. I can’t prove this, but I suspect that if it weren’t for competition for regional loyalty from energy-rich Venezuela, I doubt the US would be doing this right now. But the competition is there, and this relatively interesting program is born.

This is part of why it is so sad that the Venezuelan revolution was so laden with hypocrisy and corruption. The basic idea of a “mundo pluripolar” is sound.


5 thoughts on “US offers actually helpful energy aid for Caribbean

    1. Steven/Setty Post author

      That wasn’t even a conscious phrasing. I guess I don’t know, I haven’t even been there in more than a year, but I certainly no longer hear big ideas coming out of Venezuela. It’s been years since they went into pure “maintain power” mode, from what I can tell.

  1. alexguerreroe

    “In a way, this is the best possible result of PetroCaribe. I can’t prove this, but I suspect that if it weren’t for competition for regional loyalty from energy-rich Venezuela, I doubt the US would be doing this right now”……But the competition is there, and this relatively interesting program is born”…….HI Steven, yours sounds as a natural conspiracy theory, you should know that Chavez y Castro decided to tight hold the negritos in the Caribean are with cheap oil, and some coruption methods to enreach the politicians in the Caribe, something which it is not difficult to do. As my nona said “esta gente no coge puntadas sin dedal”. I do not how to translate this, it is a very old say, which understand that nothing is free in interests of anyone. The same lobby which was next to Obama from the first period, and which it seems they fail, “clean energy people, are now engaged, but in very small markets, they will have some government -Obama- financing and go for another try. The first thing Chavez and Castro did was ordered PVDSA to buy 50% of Dominican Rep, Jamaican, Nicaraguan and Cuban refineries; the second was convert these refineries to get fuel oil and using cheap Venezuelan oil to produce energy, the third was arrange to pay halve of the oil bill to Pdvsa by species, -barter- and the rest to fund the money for a large term financial institution in order to finance some social programs, including subsidies for electricity consumption. As you can see, all negritos were tight tied, they only had to follow Chavez and Castro politically wherever they are requested, But Chavez and Castro did not know what the that negritos had in “la manga” take the oil and pay nothing for it. The debt amounts to 25.000 MM USD with a market value of 12,500 MM USD, just have, at the same time the politicians in these small countries became rich, they enjoy the money. Ask Stanford Banks owner he knows more than we know,

  2. JBLenoir

    Chavez created PetroCaribe to buy political support for himself in the OAS, UN and other venues. Didn’t entirely work out as he expected, but then these geopolitical initiatives rarely if ever pan out as originally pitched. Venezuela failed to get its UN security council seat first time out of the box some time back, and didn’t get any traction or support at all in the Guyana offshore drilling spat now involving ExxonMobil. The Caribbean countries took the preferentially financed oil, which was the smart move from their view. I doubt any really have ever considered repaying the debt long-term. The history of sovereign debt globally (and I’d argue the PetroCaribe debt is a sort of sovereign debt) has shown that it’s hardly ever paid in full thanks to defaults, debt restructuring, buy-downs and write-offs, inflation, devaluation, changes of govt (or regime), etc. Clean energy is good, but the $20 million offered by Obama doesn’t even amount to tokenism. The US never has cared much for the Caribbean, and never will.

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