The Obama administration recently hosted the first Caribbean Energy Security Summit to support the region's improved governance, access to finance and increased donor coordination for the energy sector.
Vice President Joe Biden has led the issue of Caribbean energy security and said the Obama administration considers the topic as a primary issue.
“This is extremely important to us. It's overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States of America that we get it right, and that this relationship changes for the better across the board,” Biden said.
Biden added that the low oil prices have given little breathing room for governments, but there are alternatives. He mentioned renewable energy as an affordable source in addition to developing wind and solar energy.
“Meanwhile, we're in the midst of a seismic shift in the global economy: the ascendancy of the Americas as the epicenter of energy production in the world,” Biden said. “We have more oil and gas rigs running in the United States, than all the rest of the world combined. Mexico, Canada and the United States is the new epicenter of energy — not the Arabian Peninsula. It is the new epicenter of energy in the 21st century.”
The vice president called for an integrated North America to promote energy security since the U.S. wants Caribbean countries to “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.”
Biden further stressed the purpose of the summit is not to “put up another solar panel or sign another gas contract” but to help countries establish protocol to attract private-sector investment. The vice president, however, acknowledged that countries have to confront corruption by having clear and transparent rules.
The U.S. created the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which will focus on developing energy projects for the Caribbean. Biden announced $90 million from the OPIC will be funded to Jamaica for wind projects.
The Caribbean Energy Security Summit is a “key component” to Biden's Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, which he announced in June 2014.
A joint statement on Monday had participating countries and regional and international organization agreeing for the Caribbean to make “necessary and specific reforms” that include efforts for sustainable and clean energy technologies. The participants also stated their commitment to exchange data and energy information.
The Jan. 26 summit from Washington, D.C. included governments from Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Colombia, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, Caribbean Development Bank, European Union, Inter-American Development Bank Group, International Renewable Energy Agency, Organization of American States and the World Bank Group also participated. More