JIS News

The Ministry of Education is seeking to reduce the estimated $6 billion per annum in utility costs for schools.

In the first instance, focus will be placed on containing electricity bills, through the use of solar energy.

Pilots for this initiative are expected to begin in several schools come September, Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, informed on Thursday, May 16, at a

post-Sectoral Debate press briefing at Jamaica House.

He pointed out that the Ministry has proposals from companies, which are willing to provide these solar systems at their own cost.

“They have indicated that a savings of at least 20 per cent of energy used can be achieved, and we would pay for the capital cost over a period of time,” Rev. Thwaites said.

“This is the direction in which we are thinking…I expect that within another month, I will have a set of proposals and the financial implications for it to be done,” he said.

Rev. Thwaites said the cost of solar systems could be lowered if the use of batteries to store energy for nighttime is eliminated, since schools only operate during the daytime.

“We have a number of problems…we are careless in that many of the lights in our schools stay on all day and all night,” the Minister said, adding that in some communities residents illegally connect to the electricity systems at some institutions, as well as use water from the school compounds.

Additionally, he said primary and all age schools do not pay their own utility bills, as these are covered by the Ministry of Finance and Planning.

“While I understand why that was changed, what it does is to remove the responsibility from the school for its own basic usage, so we have asked for this to be reversed,” the Minister said.

Contact: Alphea Saunders