| by Kira Lemons

News Stories

Justin Locke (MPA '08)
Justin Locke (MPA ‘08) for the Rocky Mountain Institute (Credit: Rocky Mountain Institute )

As part of a segment on the development of storm-proof renewable energy resources in the Caribbean, Justin Locke (MPA, ‘08) spoke with Bill Whitaker of 60 Minutes about the Islands Energy Program of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The Islands Energy Program works with the governments of island nations to meet their development objectives for clean energy. One of the projects Locke is advising on is building a 15-acre solar array between the government center and hospital of Marsh Harbour on Abaco Island in the Bahamas. This array will provide 10% of the total power needs of the entire island. Last time this area was hit by a category 5 hurricane, power was out at these vital locations for days.

Locke, currently a Senior Director of RMI’s Empowering Clean Economies Program and the senior lead for the Islands Energy Program, talked about how the latest developments in solar power make the Caribbean the perfect place for this kind of development. 

The key game changer has been battery storage. Battery storage has decreased in cost over 60% over the last 5 years. And what battery storage does, is it enables the sun to shine when the sun is not shining. Renewables make more sense here than anywhere else in the world.
— Justin Locke (MPA '08)

The current annual cost for electrical power using imported fuel is $400 million. There are also frequent delays during storm season, when the ships that carry the fuel are kept away from the islands for safety reasons. The 15-acre microgrid installation is $3 million and the upkeep afterward will be much less.

According to their website, RMI engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Locke has worked for RMI since 2014 and was previously the Disaster Risk Management Specialist at the World Bank, managing the Caribbean adaptation and infrastructure portfolio. Before working at the World Bank, Locke worked for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in the Pacific Region as a Development Specialist at the UNDP Regional Pacific Center based in Fiji, providing technical assistance to over 14 Pacific island countries. He also worked as Community and Recovery Specialist for the UNDP Multi-Country Office based in Samoa where he managed the Polynesian sub-region portfolio. He is also a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, having served in Kiribati as a Community Development Specialist.

If you would like to listen to the contents of this interview, please visit: www.stitcher.com/podcast/60-minutes-full-audio/e/67709469

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