Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said that the government is willing to consider all feasible proposals aimed at easing the burden of high energy costs on Jamaicans.
He was speaking at on March 15 unveiling of the conceptual drawings for construction of the Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS) new multi-million dollar Hydroelectric Power Plant in Maggotty, St. Elizabeth.
According to Minister Paulwell, the high cost of energy, both in terms of transport fuel and electricity, is the biggest issue affecting Jamaicans today.
"On the matter of fuel, I want to let the Jamaican travelling public know this, there is not a lot that we can do, quite honestly, but this Government is open and willing to consider all feasible proposals or suggestions for how to ease the burden that we face today,” he stated.
He mentioned that a meeting was held recently with various stakeholders, including taxi operators and the Jamaica Gasoline Retailers Association (JGRA), while another is to be held today “to try to see how we can work together to alleviate some of the difficulties that they face with the ever increasing price of fuel."
As it relates to electricity costs, Minister Paulwell noted that both himself and JPS recognise that the price of the commodity is high, and have agreed to work together to achieve a lowering of the price.
"At these rates, we all know how our businesses and families they struggle to survive, our growth is stymied and our future imperiled. I talk to people and hear the stories…it is a matter that we are taking seriously," he stated.
He noted that the high electricity rates are mostly as a result of the high price of oil, and there is no instant quick fix, “because if there were, it would have been applied already”.
The Minister made a plea for individuals and businesses to strive to increase efficiency and practice conservation methods to assist in tackling the challenge of high energy prices.
The launch of the JPS’ new hydroelectric power plant, he said, is a significant and important step towards addressing the country’s energy issues.
The new facility, estimated to cost US$33 million, will be built along the same river, where an existing hydro plant is located. The new power plant will double capacity at Maggotty from six megawatts to 12.3 megawatts.
Construction is expected to begin later this year, and should be completed and ready for commissioning by November next year.
Vice President for Generation Expansion at JPS, Valentine Fagan, said that the new plant will have a useful lifespan of over 50 years.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter