Overseas consultants conducting grid analysis

BY INGRID BROWN Associate Editor Special Assignment browni@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 26, 2013

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ENERGY Minister Phillip Paulwell said overseas consultants have been contracted to conduct a grid analysis of the ability and capacity of the island's transmission and distribution network to absorb electricity from renewable energy.

According to Paulwell, this project, which is being funded by the World Bank, will help the Government to determine what is happening with the grid.

"It is firstly to enable us to ensure maximum efficiency as we incorporate more and more renewable [energy] onto the grid, but also it is an opportunity for us to really understand if there are inherent weaknesses now that need to be addressed," Paulwell explained.

The consultants, who are from the French firm Electricité de France and Hinicio in Belgium, are expected to complete the assessment in a matter of weeks.

Meanwhile, the energy minister, who was addressing journalists at yesterday's weekly Jamaica House press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston, expressed dissatisfaction with the all-island power outages that the country experienced last year and earlier this year.

He noted that he has since received a report on the matter from the Jamaica Public Service Company and is seeking from the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) their prescription to prevent a recurrence.

He said there was no need for the country to be affected by all-island outages as there is no shortage of generating capacity in the system.

The OUR, the minister said, has reported a decrease in the demand for electricity and attributes this to greater use of renewable and conservation efforts. According to Paulwell, this demand has fallen by 40 megawatts, which has now resulted in an available surplus.

"I believe it has a lot to do with our demand management programme and what we are doing to encourage better use of renewable and conservation," he said.

"When you see power cuts these days, the explanation is that you have a transformer shutting down or a motor vehicle accident knocking down a pole, so there really ought not to be any shortfall in generating capacity of the country," the minister said, adding that "we now have excess capacity".

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