THE Government is implementing a street light energy saving initiative, with the commencement of a pilot project, to be undertaken in three parishes over the next six months.
The initiative, being jointly implemented by the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, and the United States-based technology and engineering solutions firm, Green Energy RG LLC, is aimed at significantly reducing the cost to the budget to maintain the country's approximately 93,000 street lights, which totals upwards of $2 billion per annum.
Project activities got underway in Osbourne Store, Clarendon, on Tuesday with the installation of the first set of solar-powered light emitting diode (LED) fixtures in that community.
Local Government and Community Development Minister Noel Arscott — whose Ministry has portfolio responsibility for street lights — and Green RG Principals, managing director, Alfred Hyre, and president of Green RG Caribbean Limited, Jonathan Burke, headed the officials on hand to witness the installations.
Addressing the launch of the project, Arscott announced that the pilot phase will see some 5,000 LED panels being installed in Clarendon as well as sections of St Catherine and Kingston and St Andrew. Additionally, he said the phase will also see the ministry's offices at Hagley Park Road in Kingston, being retrofitted with energy saving solutions.
"Today, we are going to put up 10 of these lights (in Osbourne Store) and we hope to be able to proceed to install lights all over Clarendon and then into other parts of Jamaica. We hope that we will be able to complete the programme...by midyear, and then we can evaluate the results and determine where we go from there," he said.
For his part, Hyre said his company was "very excited" to be partnering with the ministry to implement the project. "We are very excited about this technology. It's proven technology that I think is going to do everything and more than everyone expects it to do," he said.
Installation of the LED fixtures, which is being done at no cost to the Government, is being facilitated by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development and Green Energy RG, which was signed in 2011.
The MOU made provisions for the testing and implementation of alternative energy technology solutions for local government facilities, and comes in the wake of a recently completed energy audit of the ministry's offices as well as public spaces under its purview.
Cabinet recently approved measures aimed reducing electricity costs to the State for the island's street lights. These include: the introduction of policy standards on the type and characteristics of street lights, to enable the use of the most energy and cost efficient units. Implementation of this policy will be underpinned by the requisite regulations, which are expected to yield significant savings.
Cabinet also gave authorisation for the exploration of what it deemed feasible options for the introduction of LED street lights on a wide scale islandwide.