CHARLESTOWN, Nevis: Public Utilities Minister, Carlisle Powell, told members of the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC) that they should never sacrifice training, no matter what challenges they face.
Powell made the statement during his recent keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Occupational Health and Safety Conference hosted by the CARILEC at the Mount Nevis Hotel.
The two-day conference was held under the patronage of Nevis Premier, Joseph Parry, with the theme “Make safety a core value through training and commitment”.
“It is a known policy that when businesses face challenging times, as finance becomes scarce, one of the first things that is suspended is training. It is to your credit, therefore, that CARILEC decided that this occupational health and safety workshop and conference must be held at this time when resources are scarce,” he said.
“Whatever the challenges, we can never sacrifice training. This is especially true when we are dealing with the area of occupational health and safety. The health and safety of employees must always be placed above profits.”
Powell encouraged participants to use the training opportunities given to them to increase their knowledge in areas that would make their job sites safer places. He also advised them to keep close contact with each other to increase familiarity and interaction since no challenge is unique to any participating utility and thus cannot be handled alone.
Despite his optimistic words, Powell said these are challenging times with instability in various parts of the world, particularly in major oil-producing areas which undoubtedly contributed to the high and rising price of oil on the world market.
Even facing the threat of wars and the dangers of man’s inhumanity, Powell said talk of global warming and its projected effects, especially on the Caribbean islands which are surrounded by sea water, continue. Utility companies, however, are expected to continue to provide a reliable and affordable supply of power to their customers, he added.
Powell told members of the CARILEC that although diesel and hydro have traditionally powered the region’s utilities, their sights should now be set on new methods.
“Our goal must be to integrate non-traditional sources such as solar, geothermal, wind energy, waste-to-energy and biofuels, to name a few. I say non-traditional and did not include wind, but we are fully aware that hundreds of years ago wind as a source of energy was widely used in the sugar plantations. We are aware that after the juice was crushed from the sugar cane, the waste was used to fire the steam engines,” he said.
Companies present at the conference were the Anguilla Electricity Company, the Bermuda Electric Light Company, Dominica Electricity Services, Fortis Turks and Caicos, Grenada Electricity Services, IFD Corporation, Jamaica Public Service Company, Light and Power Holdings, Montserrat Utility, National Petroleum, Nevis Electricity Company, Paradoxe Corporation, St. Kitts Electricity Company, St. Vincent Electricity Services, Tee Luck Sing & Associates, The Power Generation Company of Trinidad and WEB Aruba.
The conference was declared open by Premier Parry and was chaired by general manager of the Nevis Electricity Company, Cartwright Farrell, who also delivered the opening remarks. Executive director of CARILEC, Dr. Gary Jackson, delivered the vote of thanks and remarks on behalf of CARILEC.