Environment

Going Solar — Green Energy Savings Ltd shows how

‘Saving more than money’

BY JANICE BUDD Associate Editor — Sunday buddj@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2012    

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GREEN Energy Savings Limited (GESL) is optimistic that although it has only been up and running for a few months, its renewable energy solutions have already made it a beacon for financially stressed Jamaicans who are desperate to reduce high electricity costs.

The Caribbean-based company opened its doors in January 2012 with a commitment to offering clean energy alternatives for both commercial and residential use with its mission being not only to transform the energy landscape in Jamaica and the region, but to help consumers think differently about their energy consumption and in the long run, save money.

In fact, the company slogan is "Saving more than money!"

GESL provides the latest in LED (light emitting diode) technology, especially energy-saving bulbs/fixtures, solar equipment, gas dryers, inverter AC units and a wide range of other energy saving devices.

The company has forged strategic partnerships with some of the world's biggest names in clean energy technology — such as Air Green Corporation, Mitsubishi, Green Energy USA, Sun Electronics, P3 International, and CR Lighting Fixtures — and is a member of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association.

Awakening Jamaicans to the need to adapt to using cleaner, more efficient energy sources is a painstakingly slow process, but Managing Director of GESL Peter Shoucair feels his company can make the difference by also offering consultation and installation services that will pay off in the long run.

"Our goal is to have green energy products in every household and business place and help Jamaica save energy for a brighter future," he said.

He explained to Environment Watch that deciding on whether to make incremental steps to going solar or to take the full plunge is not something consumers are advised to do on their own.

"I have a three-step system — reduce your watts; bring down your kilowatt-hours; and then go solar. This way, your purchase will be much more affordable with a shorter payback time. We show consumers how to do this easily, and suggest which products to use to start the process and start realising the savings in a short time."

But the change in attitude about energy consumption, he adds, must begin at home.

"Reducing your energy at home must start with your family, as teaching children to turn off fans and lights when not in use, as well as not opening the fridge door too many times will help to reduce your light bill."

More significant changes, he notes, come with tackling and embracing new technology.

"Implementing energy products such as brighter and long-lasting LED bulbs which reduce lighting costs by 23 per cent, gas dryers, gas or solar water heaters, inverter air conditioning units, and fridge timers are the many ways that you will see a huge reduction in your energy usage, not only letting you use less kilowatt hours but less watts. This will make going solar even cheaper and allow you to use less equipment and solar panels and make your investment in solar pay back much shorter," Shoucair said.

GESL has a long list of satisfied customers who went to bat publicly for the innovative company.

They include residential customer Peter Ashore, who said he had seen a 40 per cent reduction in his electricity bill after investing in LED bulbs, a gas dryer, line conditioners and fridge timers.

"My electricity bills at home were too high. Mr Shoucair explained certain options, the choices we had, and we liked what we heard, so we decided to go ahead," Asher said.

Shoucair pointed to another a commercial customer, businessman Mark Fletcher of coffee-roasting company Country Traders, which recently installed 100 LED bulbs at his factory — registering a ten per cent dip in his electricity bill after four months.

"The new bulbs cost significantly more than fluorescent bulbs, but I estimate that they will pay for themselves in the first two years, then after that we will start realising savings," Fletcher said.

"Our electricity bill keeps going up every month, and we have been trying to find ways to conserve and bring down the bill. We are not going solar immediately, because that would be too much of an investment. So, we looked instead at how we can reduce our energy usage with LED bulbs from Green Energy Savings," Fletcher said. Going solar is his next objective.

"If we can reduce the level of energy needed with LED bulbs and other energy saving devices, we will be able to change over eventually to solar energy without needing as big a system," Fletcher noted.

The company continues to fight to change minds about clean alternative energy sources in a country so dependent on electricity generated from oil. The main obstacle, he admitted to Environment Watch, is usually having to convince people that they have to spend money to start seeing energy savings.

"Education is a very big part of what we do at GESL, as we invite persons to come in with their JPS bills and guide them as to how to reduce their bill the alternative way," Shoucair said.

In an effort to spread the word about saving the environment and valuable dollars, GESL has also said it will teach small groups, especially the young, how to save energy and point out products that can be used to accomplish this goal.

"Green Energy Savings Limited is open to educating our children in the use and benefits of alternative energy products as well. All schools are welcome," he said.

Shoucair noted, however, that there is much more that can be done to help local companies who make the investment and switch to clean energy.

"Alternative energy is new to Jamaica and the Government needs to help those businesses that have invested their money into alternative energy. Take off all GCT (General Consumption Tax) on all alternative energy products, including LED light bulbs. More education needs to be done by the Ministry of Energy to not just educate persons on going green, but also list businesses that they can go to in Jamaica that provides these services. The more persons that go green can only benefit the Government as well as Jamaica in the long run," he posited. "Now that JPS is offering net billing, this is one step in the right direction, people can now go with the grid-tied (solar) system which is more affordable.

For those just dipping their toes into the pool of clean energy resources, Shoucair advises: "When shopping for alternative energy products make sure you are buying quality; going cheap will not show you any savings, make sure companies give warranty, have a track record in reducing energy bills, and that their products meet international standards and have been approved by the Jamaica Bureau of Standards."

Currently, he noted, the company is looking for more distributors and sales representatives across the country to help the company expand beyond its Barbican Road address in Kingston.

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