Prince ushers in Brac wind farm

Cheaper electricity will soon be generated for residents and visitors on Cayman Brac.

Cayman Brac Power and Light members with HRH Prince Edward

Members of the board of directors of Cayman Brac Power and Light with HRH The Earl of Wessex Prince Edward and Governor Stuart Jack, centre. Photo: Ed Beaty

In one of his official duties while touring the Cayman Islands, HRH The Earl of Wessex Prince Edward broke ground for the Cayman Brac Power & Light Company’s Wind Power Project at Stake Bay Point on the Bluff Monday.

The ground-breaking ceremony follows Caribbean Utilities Company’s study of alternative energy technologies, examining the practicalities of producing wind, solar, sea, fuel cell and biomass power.

It also follows CBP&L’s installation an instrument for measuring the speed of wind, which will launch a six-month feasibility test of electricity generation using the prevailing sea breezes crossing the Bluff.

The CBP&L project aims to construct a windmill farm capable of generating electricity for Cayman Brac and reducing power costs to as little as 16 cents per kilowatt hour. This compares to current costs of approximately 24 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 100 kilowatts. Construction of between 10 and 15 windmills would result in each producing 200,000 kilowatt hours annually, sufficient to power approximately 130 houses.

Following the ground-breaking ceremony, CBP&L Manager Jonathan Tibbetts presented the Earl with a block of Caymanite carved with the inscription ‘Ground Broken by HRH Prince Edward, February 5th 2007, Cayman Brac Power and Light Bluff Plant’. The Caymanite block will be placed in the eastern column of the new CBP&L plant.

Before arriving on the Brac, the Earl visited the Little Cayman Research Centre Sunday afternoon.

He was greeted by Dr. Carrie Manfrino and Peter Hillenbrand of the non-profit Central Caribbean Marine Institute, which runs the research centre, Jon Clamp who is manager of the centre, and Sister Islands MLA Moses Kirkconnell.

The Earl, who was accompanied by the Governor Mr. Stuart Jack and his wife Mariko, was introduced to the centre’s staff, executive board members, executive council members, major financial contributors and volunteers. He is patron of the institute.

Many of Little Cayman’s residents turned out to enjoy the royal occasion and were thrilled to be invited into the main foyer for a special presentation.

Mr. Hillenbrand was given CCMI’s first CORAL award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the protection and preservation of coral reefs.

The Earl unveiled the award, which was a painting called Pete’s Reef by part-time Little Cayman resident Scott Gordy.

‘Mr. (Peter) Hillenbrand had a vision for the creation of a facility devoted to studying the coral reefs that would be an example of ecologically sound, sustainable development and a resource for educating our local youth about the opportunities not only for science lessons but also for science careers right here in our own back yards. This vision has become a reality,’ said Mr. Kirkconnell.

‘This painting…represents the appreciation of everyone who is involved with the education and environment programmes undertaken at the Little Cayman Research Centre.

‘The artist Scott Gordy, whom many of you know personally, was commissioned by your supporters to produce a lasting tribute to the personal contribution your leadership has brought to this world-class facility.’

Mr. Kirkconnell said CORAL stands for commitment, outreach, respect and leadership.

‘We, at CCMI, established this award so we could formally acknowledge outstanding contributions to the protection and preservation of coral reefs,’ he added.

Mr. Hillenbrand, who is proprietor of the Southern Cross Club, has served for more than six years as chairman of the executive board of the CCMI.

The centre was also formally declared a host site for the International Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, with the programme’s flag raised on the pole outside the facility.

This means that youngsters taking part in the scheme will be able to attend the centre as part of their personal development programme.

School children Taron Scott, Paul Morgan, Arrow Moore and Shawn Morgan made a special sculpture for the Earl’s visit.

Little Cayman resident Brigitte Kassa, who has written a children’s book called Brenetta and her Menagerie, privately presented the prince with a signed copy for his daughter, Lady Louise Windsor.

The book is based on Brigitte’s real life experiences on the island with her birds and animals.

The Earl concluded his visit by mingling with residents as they enjoyed a delicious tea of savoury snacks and home baking.

The CCMI is a research and education organisation dedicated to sustaining biodiversity by conducting and facilitating studies. Its research centre is a leading marine science facility for undergraduate, graduate and professional researchers around the world.

The Earl previously visited Little Cayman in 2003, when he dedicated the site where the research centre now stands.