|Arawak Homes ‘definitely for’ green solutions|
Guardian Business Editor
Published: Jun 22, 2012
The president of Arawak Homes says he is confident that renewable energy products can be incorporated into large-scale residential projects if stakeholders can manage pricing.
Franon Wilson acknowledged that there are a number of benefits to using solar water heaters and solar panels in affordable housing subdivisions. Arawak Homes is now in the process of engaging the Ministry of Housing and placing a bid to help spearhead the government's affordable housing initiative. Kenred Dorsett, the minister of the environment and housing, plans to build 1,300 homes over the next five years.
"I am definitely for it," Wilson said, referring to adding renewable energy products to the homes. "I also recognize the challenges that go along with it. That's something that has to be looked at closely. Something would need to be done to reduce the up front cost."
Whereas up-scale clients have the discretionary income to invest in green technology, and pay back the cost over time, the essence of affordable housing is to keep prices low.
If you try and make the homes cost as little as possible, but add on this technology, it could be a reason why Bahamians cannot afford the property, Wilson explained. A "balance" must be struck with the supplier so Bahamians can benefit from the alternative energy, and ultimately save money by not drawing on the grid.
J.P. Michelson, owner of Bahamas Energy Solutions, has been a strong supporter of bringing in green energy to affordable homes.
His company now supplies solar panels and solar water heaters to homes throughout The Bahamas. He believes, however, that bringing it to the masses through affordable housing will help break down some of the myths associated with the technology, not to mention help everyday Bahamians save on costs.
"The cost can certainly be financed," he added. "It can be included in the mortgage payment. If you're looking at a 30-gallon hot water solar heater, for example, that's $2,500. That could be in the ballpark for most people looking to buy affordable housing," he said.
Hot water can account for up to 30 percent of your bill with Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC), Michelson explained, and if Bahamians are paying the up front cost over a period of 10 years, it only adds up to a couple dollars a month.
"We are also flexible in terms of getting payment. We've done it before and we'll do it for the right client," he told Guardian Business.
In addition to saving Bahamians money, the initiative would also get more people off an already taxed BEC grid.
According to a recent report by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, The Bahamas ranked dead last in the region concerning alternative energy policy, regulations and penetration. It found that this country had a presence of green companies, but very little policy on the books to bring the technology to fruition.
"Policy mechanisms have helped spur major clean energy development in western Europe, the United States and other parts of the world," the Climatescope 2012 report said. "The potential impact of low-carbon policies on clean energy development in Latin American and the Caribbean is crucial to understanding the environment for climate-related investment in the region and forecasting growth."
The country ranked 21 out of 26 overall, across all categories.