A geothermal resources development bill, a critical piece of legislation to facilitate investment in geothermal energy, has been approved by Parliament.
The Geothermal Resources Development Bill, tabled on Monday 24 October 2016 by Minister for Trade, Energy and Employment, Ian Douglas, consumed just over ninety minutes of debate.
It received interventions from four Members of Parliament namely Felix Thomas, Joseph Isaac, Isaac Baptiste and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.
“The Geothermal Resources Development Act provides for the legal framework for the management of the geothermal resources, reconnaissance, exploration, use and in Dominica’s case export of the resource,” Minister Douglas informed.
“The act, Madame Speaker, must therefore provide for the issuance, suspension, and revocation of licenses, regulate the use of the resource in a manner that is sustainable, and minimize the impact on the physical and social environment,” he added.
According to Douglas, since 2000 two draft bills have been prepared for the government in respect to the management of the country’s geothermal resources.
The Dominica government and EDF, a French company entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly pursue the best options for the construction of a plant for domestic supply and for export to Guadeloupe and Martinique via undersea cable in January, 2013.
That project was to provide 50 megawatts to Martinique and 50 megawatts to Guadeloupe, but the French company later withdrew its commitment and government continued to finance the project.
The minister informed that another bill was therefore drafted and serves as a one stop shop for geothermal development by integrating the relevant provision of the Physical Planning Act of 2002 and the Electricity Supplies Act of 2006.
He added that in June 2015, the Attorney General advised of his approval of and no objection to the geothermal resources development bill.
“The bill has been prepared Mr. Speaker, based on the principle of the sustainable use of our country’s geothermal resources, and therefore contains strong controls to protect the physical and social environment,” Douglas said.
Additionally, the bill declares that all geothermal resources will always be vested in the state and subject to the control of the state which is consistent with part one, section two of the Mines and Minerals Act of 1996.
It also contains provision for a Geothermal Resource Advisory Committee made up of the permanent secretary of the ministry responsible for energy, the executive director of the IRC, the chief physical planner of the Physical Planning Division, a senior state attorney and other public officers, and private professionals as appointed by the minister.
The advisory committee shall report to the minister, furnishing him or her with any information to be submitted to Cabinet, and reports on the assessments of the development of the geothermal resource and its associated impact, details on the committee’s activities, and any other report which may be required by the minister.