U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement of $20 million in financing for private investment in Caribbean clean energy projects at a meeting yesterday with the region’s leaders in Kingston, Jamaica, comes at a good time: After a lost decade during which easy access to cheap Venezuelan oil undermined incentives to seek alternative sources, the Caribbean now faces long-deferred decisions on how it sources and uses energy. The slump in global oil prices has hit Venezuela’s economy hard, threatening its Petrocaribe trade program, established by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 2005 to sell subsidized oil and diesel to the group’s 18 members, 12 of which are in the Caribbean. But with Venezuelan largesse likely to dry up, the Caribbean is looking to new energy partners and resources, including its own renewable ones. That has revived the optimism of the early 2000s, when policymakers were abuzz over renewable energy’s potential as a long-term solution to the needs of the region’s small, mostly energy-poor island states.
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