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Final Decision Next Week on Alternative Source of Energy

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Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says by next week he will report to the country, “once and for all,” the way forward in relation to an alternative source of energy.

Addressing students and energy stakeholders at a seminar on energy management at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Papine campus on January 31, Mr. Paulwell informed that Thursday, January 31 was the final day for the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to “complete its process of determining and convincing the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) that it has a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) solution.”

Mr. Paulwell said following its meeting with the JPS, the OUR is expected to meet with the Energy Ministry on Friday, February 1, to present its views on the power company’s plans.

“And by next week we intend to signal to the country, once and for all, the way forward in relation to whether it’s going to be LNG or some other fuel,” he said.

The Minister reiterated the Government’s commitment under the National Energy Policy, to reduce the cost of electricity to Jamaicans through the use of alternative sources, such as LNG.

He noted that for many years, governments have failed to reach a decision on the matter to the detriment of the country and consumers.

“For many years we have failed as a country to diversify our energy sources. And the governments have to bear a brunt of that embarrassing situation, because we have not been able to make timely decisions on transforming to various fuel sources,” he pointed out.

Mr. Paulwell said for too long governments have been in “varying minds” in regard to the country’s plans for energy diversification.

“At one time we were clear about coal being the best alternative fuel, then we got caught up with LNG and it preoccupied our minds for some time. In 2006, when I was Minister, we shifted to coal and I mandated coal, and if coal had come, today the prices would have been 50 per cent less,” he said.

He pointed out that a change of government in 2007 saw the country going back to LNG “and last year we came back and inherited this LNG project.”

Mr. Paulwell said if he had been given a clean sheet when the administration returned to power in 2011, “the policy would be that the government would play no role at all and that the market would determine, on a competitive, basis the best way forward.”

The Government, last year, removed itself from the fuel source selection process of the LNG project, turning that responsibility over to the JPS, while it concentrated on creating the appropriate legislative and regulatory framework.

The Minister further noted that as the government seeks to cut the cost of electricity to Jamaicans, other energy sources such as coal, nuclear and renewable energy are being considered.

On the matter  of renewable energy, the Minister stated that,  “if we could increase rapidly the amount of renewable energy onto the grid, it would substantially cut our import bill and we would have saved tremendously in terms of the foreign exchange that we spend on imported fossil fuel.”

The Minister’s address was the first in a series of monthly lectures, hosted by  UTech’s Faculty of Engineering and Computing, on research and entrepreneurship titled, ‘The Energy Management Framework: Opportunities for Innovation, Research and Entrepreneurship’.

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