Japan-based Marubeni has signalled that it intends to spend "up to half a billion US dollars" along with it's equity partner, Korea East West Power, to build new electricity assets for the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPSCo) to replace the ageing Hunt's Bay power station in Kingston.
The announcement was made during the recent visit of two senior Marubeni executives to the island. During the visit, the executives met with JPSCo executives and toured the facilities of JPS and South Jamaica Power Company (SJPC), in which Marubeni holds significant ownership.
"Looking forward, Marubeni and its partners are committed to providing low-cost, clean energy to the country and expect to invest up to half a billion US dollars to build new electricity assets to replace some aging power plants," a release sent to the media stated.
Answers to queries from the Jamaica Observer revealed that the investment is set to begin to be rolled out in 2023 and with the plant expected to be ready for operations by 2027. It was, however, not clear what energy source would be used to generate electricity at the plant that is to be built to replace the Hunt's Bay power station. However, in recent times, the JPS has committed to using cleaner sources than heavy fuel oil to produce electricity including natural gas and renewable energy.
Marubeni is one of the majority shareholders of JPSCo. Since its acquisition in 2007, Marubeni and its partners have directed the investments of more than US$1.2 billion in installation, repair, maintenance and upgrade of the electricity grid as well as equipment needed for the integration of more renewable energy assets. The investments have significantly improved the reliability of the generation, transmission and distribution assets, security in the streets, the integration of renewable assets and the preparation for the influx of electric vehicles in Jamaica.
JPS installed more than 100,000 LED street lights and hundreds of thousands of smart meters, converted the Bogue power station from oil to gas, installed the largest energy storage using batteries, and is in the process of locating 20 public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations islandwide.
The Marubeni executives toured the SJPC power plant with a sense of satisfaction. Marubeni and its partners have invested more than US$330 million to build this largest, most efficient power plant in the country. The SJPC's 194MW plant came online in late 2019, providing cheap and reliable power to homes, businesses and institutions in Jamaica.
Currently, JPS has two major investors: Marubeni Corporation and Korea East-West Power each hold 40 per cent of shares in JPS. The Government of Jamaica, through the Development Bank of Jamaica, holds the remaining 19.9 per cent and the remaining less than 1 per cent is held by private shareholders.