Lower electricity cost to attract more int'l investors, Tapia tells Jamaica

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia says the high electricity cost in Jamaica is a major stumbling block when it comes to attracting world-class companies willing to set up factories here.

“The cost of energy must come down. It has to come down,” Tapia argued.

The current electricity rate is 28 American cents per kilowatt-hour.

But Tapia argued that even though energy cost has been lowered in Jamaica over the past five years, the need still exists for a further slashing of the rates.

“You have done a great job in the last five to six years in bringing the cost of energy down. And if you can bring it down another six cents per kilowatt-hour, Jamaica would explode because now we are in the marketplace. We are in the marketplace that we can attract manufacturers, and so forth, here,” Tapia said.

He noted that the same renewable energy sources which the United States have utilised to bring down electricity cost, are available in Jamaica and should be employed to bring affordable electricity to rural areas.

“We (America) have brought down the electricity cost through liquefied natural gas (LNG), wind and and solar power — this is something that is here. We (Jamaica) have the sun, we have the wind, let's use it for our own benefit to be able to transform electricity out to the other areas where it's hard to reach some of the Jamaican people. This is not right,” the US ambassador said.

“It's our job, as entrepreneurs and so forth, to see what we can do to help out parishes that we all know about...I have been here only for four months and I can tell you, I have visited all [the] parishes.”

He was speaking at the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) Awards Banquet at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Saturday night.

Tapia said he has “actively helped Jamaican companies find US suppliers”.

“In September I led a delegation of Jamaicans, private and public sector, to Salt Lake City, including Energy Minister Fayval Williams, to a power international North American renewable energy conference. We took private sector, we showed electric buses, LNG buses that could be used here in Jamaica to cut down on carbon footprints, also save energy in Jamaica. My team at the embassy, as well as the Government officials from Washington, has so far been assisting Jamaican companies,” Tapia remarked.

President of the MBCCI Janet Silvera, who trumpeted Montego Bay's contribution to the country's economy, noted that the city's success did not happen overnight.

“It didn't happen by accident. It happened because at every juncture in our history, not just once, not just twice, but over and over again, we came together to recreate ourselves; we came together, as one, and did what was necessary to win the future,” Silvera said.

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