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Jamaica ripe for renewable energy investment

Monday, September 03, 2012 | 8:28 AM    

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KINGSTON, Jamaica - Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Julian Robinson, says Jamaica is ripe for investment in renewable energy.

Following a recent assessment of the rates paid to people who generate energy which is then sold to the grid, a recommendation is now on the table that will make it more attractive for investors to invest locally, said Robinson said, adding this will bring significant benefits to the energy consuming public.

“We have looked at the rates that are paid by our monopoly provider, the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), to individuals who generate their own electricity. We had a consultant come in and examine those rates and the recommendations that have been put on the table will make it more attractive for individual companies to invest in other sources of energy and supply the grid.”

Jamaicans currently buy electricity from the JPS at an average of US$0.40 cents per Kilowatt Hour, Robinson said, however, renewable energy is purchased by the JPS at US$0.10 cents per Kilowatt Hour.

“With the revised study, the rates will make it more attractive for investors who are looking at this as an investment opportunity, because they can make a quicker return on their investment. With that gap, the opportunity arises for other players, whether in solar, wind or hydro power, to provide cheaper rates of electricity to our consumers and businesses,” he said.

The Government has set a target to reduce its electricity consumption by 30 per cent, as it currently pays about $1.2 billion per month for electricity for all its ministries, departments and agencies, Robinson pointed out.  A 30 per cent reduction will realize a saving of $360 million per month.

Encouraging residents to do their part through conservation, either by the installation of renewable energy systems or through retrofitting with energy saving bulbs and other applications, Robinson cited the Government’s retrofitting project now underway in public buildings.

“This is one of the few projects that pay for itself within three years. The initial outlay is expensive, but when they measure the savings this project will pay for itself. The money that we’ll spend we will save in our electricity consumption. What you save more than pays for itself in a shorter period of time,” he said.

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