Former USPresidentBill Clinton.
Former US president's Climate inintiative pushing cheaper renewable enery programmes

FORMER United States President Bill Clinton's Foundation is working witha Jamaican entity, Wigton Windfarm, to promote greater use of wind and solar energy here, as part of a wider effort to force down exorbitant energy costs in island nations.

The Climate Change Initiative (CCI) and its companion Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMICWR) — both of which operate under the Foundation — believe that Jamaica could become more independent of the more costly traditional energy sources by reducing energy costs through renewable energy.

“This high cost puts stress on the Government by increasing the trade imbalance and discouraging foreign investment, as well as on individual households who have to pay high prices for the power they receive,” the CCI said in an article written exclusively for the Jamaica Observer and published on page 14 of today's edition.

(See Bill Clinton Foundation pushing renewable energy for Jamaica) The CCI pointed to new initiatives in Jamaica which are addressing renewable energy transitions from a variety of angles, including the Wigton Windfarm which uses wind to generate electricity and which has recently expanded its energy capacity to 38.7 megawatts.

CCI also said it was working on innovative solar PV programmes in Jamaica. “Jamaica can significantly reduce energy costs by becoming more independent, which will benefit the country as a whole... These projects are a great first step in transitioning to sustainable energy systems, but more work can be done,” it said.

The Clinton Foundation suggested that there was a link between climate change and energy, and that the threats of rising sea levels, freak weather patterns, and dying ecosystems had become part of the daily conversation, yet the international response was yet to catch up.

But it praised island nations like Jamaica for having taken “admirable steps towards transitioning to renewable energy”. “Island nations like Jamaica will benefit economically if there is a systematic transition away from traditional sources of energy.

Because of their dependence on importing diesel and petroleum, these nations are susceptible to global market fluctuations and have to pay high premiums on transport of fuel. For instance, the price of energy for some island nations has reached almost 500 per cent the typical US average.

In Jamaica, 11.46 per cent of the country's GDP is spent on energy. “Compared with non-island nations, whose energy expenditure only represents a small percentage of GDP, this high price causes a significant economic burden for the people of Jamaica and their families,” CCI said.

DESMOND ALLEN Executive editor - special assignment

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