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Energy cost won’t be low enough to attract investments — Kerr-Jarrett

Balford Henry

Thursday, March 06, 2014    

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BUSINESSWOMAN Paula Kerr-Jarrett says she is concerned about the statement made in the House of Representatives last Tuesday by Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies, that energy cost reduction from the proposed 360 megawatt LNG plant would not be enough to promote investments in the proposed Goat Islands logistics hub project.

Kerr-Jarrett, who was the opposition Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) candidate in East Hanover in the 2011 general election, in a reaction to Dr Davies's statement said in a release yesterday that it was "a clear indication that while energy costs may be brought down in coming years, after the LNG plant is commissioned, it will not be low enough to attract critical investments".

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell has promoted the 360-megawatt LNG plant development, aimed at significantly reducing energy costs to both residential and commercial customers of the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), and to encourage investors dissuaded by the current 42 cents per kilowatt hour cost.

Dr Davies told Parliament that while the expected reduction in energy costs was welcomed, relative to current costs, it would not be enough to meet the eight to 15 cents per kilowatt hour that China Harbour Engineering Company believes would attract investors to its proposed Goat Islands hub.

Kerr-Jarrett pointed out that the statement is a clear indication that whilst energy costs may be brought down in coming years, after the LNG plant is commissioned, it will not be low enough to attract critical investments.

She noted that Jamaica's Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry, in which she is an active player, which is often touted as a future "winner" by the Government, with the potential to provide thousands of jobs and generate much-needed economic activity, is reeling from high energy costs, so much so that electricity bills are surpassing rental costs.

Dr Davies's revelation, she said, should immediately spur the Government to look more seriously at Jamaica's high energy cost issues, and broaden the discourse beyond the 360-megawatt LNG plant.

Among the issues she said should be considered are: pursuing incentives for small and medium businesses, to take on board renewable energy options, including more solar energy; and seeing if the Chinese can be brought on board to supply cheap energy to Jamaica from their proposed coal energy plant, whilst adhering to strict environmental standards.

"If these, and other avenues, aren't carefully and assiduously explored, with the added pressure of a sliding dollar, high security costs, endless red tape, corruption and a general state of uncertainty, Jamaica simply cannot attract significant investments from local and international interests," she said.

-- Balford Henry

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