Law firm MF&G's $100-m renewable project to cut light bill in half

BY TERRON DEWAR Business Reporter dewart@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 20, 2014

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LOCAL law firm, Myers, Fletcher and Gordon (MFG) expects to complete plans for the final component of its renewable energy strategy — aimed at cutting its electricity bill by 50 per cent -- within three weeks.

It already spent a third of up to US$900,000 ($101 million) it has budgeted for the project installing a wind-solar hybrid system, which the supplier, WindStream Technologies, claims to be
the largest of its kind in the world.

That plant is projected to annually generate over 106,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh), or the equivalent electricity used to power 50 homes in Jamaica for a year, based on average consumption. It is also expected to save the company in excess of US$2 million ($224 million) over its projected 25-year life span.

The next major phase being finalised now, is the replacement of air conditioning.

"We are actually going to put in a new installation for a cooling system," said Director of Finance and Operations, Donovan Cunningham. "We identified a system out of Malaysia that is much more efficient than the one we currently have."

He said that, when the company first started to explore renewable energy as a viable alternative in 2009, its urban location and limited roof space, coupled with the high cost of setting up traditional wind and solar farm systems, sent them back to the drawing board.

"This hybrid system was born out of an audit that was done in 2010," said Cunningham. "The space required for this sort of installation was within our means, we are a five-storey building and the roof was high enough to access both the wind and also the energy from the sun, because we are close to the sea."

With this wind-solar system, "in terms of payback, the number of years came down considerably compared to the ones that we were looking at in 2009, we were looking [then] at seven to eight years paybacks," said the finance director. "Anything over five years is going to be a turn-off to people who know about investing."

In addition to the wind-solar venture and the planned installation of a new cooling system, Cunningham said that MFG has also re-tinted all its windows in an effort to better regulate the amount of sunlight that enters the building, thus impacting temperature, as part of their general energy management project.

"We are always looking at ways to be more efficient in delivering good quality legal services and to bring down the cost of that service delivery package," he said, while urging local entrepreneurs to "invest in the available technology".

"Don't just sit down and complain about the high cost of electricity, [because] any line item which is more than 10 per cent of your operational cost is going to be a problem," he said.

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