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Hundreds sign renewable energy petition

Renewable energy concept: photovoltaics and wind turbines on a grass-filled 3D illustration

A petition for the Government to legislate a renewable energy target in Bermuda has been backed by hundreds of people.

Stuart Kriendler, the managing director of green energy firm BE Solar, one of the main supporters of the petition, said more than 700 signatures had been collected by yesterday.

The petition, launched on May 24, asked the Government to require that 70 per cent of the country’s electricity is produced from renewable energy sources by 2040.

Mr Kriendler said: “Bermuda currently spends approximately $80,000,000 per year to purchase fossil fuels for electricity generation. If that money stayed in our economy, likely 1,000 jobs could instead be created with that money. In essence, transitioning to renewable energy is a climate and social justice issue as well as an economic one: a win-win-win.”

He said the threat of climate change had forced countries around the world to take steps to help to save the environment, but that Bermuda had lagged behind. Mr Kriendler added the petition was in line with Government’s plans for a greener Bermuda.

Less than 2 per cent of Bermuda’s electricity is produced with renewable resources at present.

A small amount is produced by incinerating waste and the rest is generated using imported fuel. With Belco to be sold and its Integrated Resource Plan, a 20-year energy plan, expected to be finalised in the next few weeks, BE Solar has partnered with environmental charity Greenrock to launch the petition.

BE Solar joined forces with UK-based sustainability engineering firm Etude last year to produce a 56-page report as an alternative to the Integrated Resource Plan. The document set out a proposal for an offshore wind farm six miles west of Dockyard and increased use of solar power. But with the Belco energy plan, which relies mainly on fossil fuels, expected to be accepted, the petition was started to encourage the Government to legislate for the use of renewable energy in Bermuda

The petition said that parts of Bermuda were predicted to be underwater within the next 25 years due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.

It added that Bermuda had some of the highest electricity costs in the world and a reliance on expensive imported fuel.

A supporter of the petition, who asked not to be identified, said that a cut in the use of fossil fuels would also improve health.The supporter said: “Living close to Belco, we suffer the harming effects on a personal level added to our deep concern of the impact on a global level.”

They added that a daughter had suffered health problems and had tested as allergic to benzene, a component of oil.

Salayah Stange and Katarina Rance, Bermuda High School pupils who have lobbied for environmental changes, said they supported the petition.

Salayah said: “For years, Bermuda has been asleep when it comes to the topics of sustainability and renewable energy.

“We are not nearly invested enough in the conservation of fuels or environmentally friendly production methods. It has been announced by the UN that in 12 years, the effects of climate change will become catastrophic and irreversible.

“It is my generation, Gen Z, that will ultimately have to bear the consequences of years of pollution and harmful emissions.

“We cannot leave this for later, as there may be no ‘later.’ Action needs to be taken now.”

She added: “I support this petition because I believe it is our responsibility to our island, our environment and our younger generations to do our part in combating climate change, and it is time Bermuda did this.”

The petition can be found at www.betterenergyplan.bm