Feature
Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz (left), engages electric vehicle enthusiast, Stephen Richards (second left), at the commissioning of Jamaica’s first public electric vehicle charging station at the Boot Service Station in Drax Hall, St. Ann, on May 7. At right is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Michel Gantois.
Photo: Okoye Henry

The commissioning of a public electric vehicle (EV) charging facility at the Boot Service Station in Drax Hall, St. Ann, is a major step towards the sustainable development of the electric mobility sector in Jamaica.

This Level 3 or rapid charging unit can facilitate a full charge of EVs within 20 to 30 minutes. It forms part of an islandwide programme to roll out 10 charging units over the next two months.

The new charging unit was installed by the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) and commissioned by Science, Energy and Technology Minister, Hon. Daryl Vaz, on May 7.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz (second right) and President and Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Michel Gantois (third left), at Jamaica’s first public electric vehicle charging station during its commissioning at the Boot Service Station in Drax Hall, St. Ann, on Friday, May 7. Sharing the moment are Operator of the Boot Service Station, Wayne Boothe (left); JPS’s Chief Operating Officer, Gary Barrow (second left); and Director General of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), Ansord Hewitt.

 

Director of Business Development at JPS, Dionne Nugent, tells JIS News that under the initiative, three rapid-charging stations and seven Level 2 or fast-charging stations will be installed at easily accessible locations.

“So, if you want to top up your battery while travelling from Montego Bay to Kingston or vice versa, then you can stop, take a quick walk, stretch your legs, do a little shopping and within a few minutes you are ready to go,” she notes.

The project demonstrates an ongoing collaboration between JPS and private-sector entities to transition and transform not only the energy sector but also the transportation sector by offering more cost-effective and eco-friendly mobility alternatives to Jamaicans.

“So, we have taken a bold step to install public charging facilities to encourage all Jamaicans to make the shift to electric vehicles,” says Ms. Nugent.

“It was no surprise when in 2019, the JPS Board and management mandated our newly formed business development team to deploy an islandwide network of public charging stations. The message was clear to our team – now is the time for us, as the electric utility, to make public charging facilities a reality,” she adds.

EV enthusiast Stephen Richards is excited about the prospects of charging facilities being installed across the country.

Mr. Richards says that “range anxiety” would often get the better of him when operating his own EV that he would charge at home.

However, he notes that with the launch of public charging facilities, in addition to future plans by JPS and the Energy Ministry to develop an EV ecosystem, his fears are being allayed.

“We can venture all over the island and we don’t have any range anxiety, which we EV owners have been suffering for quite some time,” Mr. Richards tells JIS News.

“I  acquired this car (Nissan Leaf) last year and I am having just too much fun with it, and I am now able to move outside of Kingston and, hopefully, we can go on the south coast because there will be charging stations as well,” he adds.

Mr. Richards points out that he has been enjoying excellent savings since he switched to an EV, and servicing has also been a breeze.

He is encouraging Jamaicans to make the switch, protect the environment and reduce the country’s energy bill.

“They need to come on board or let me give them a drive. I know people are sensitive about electricity and the fact that you don’t have many charging stations around and a myriad of things, but listen, you need to just come test the car. Come get a feel of it and do your reading and you will see that this is the way to go. This is the future,” Mr. Richards argues.

Meanwhile, Minister Vaz says the programme is critical to achieving some of Jamaica’s national goals, pointing out that the rise of electric mobility will lead to a more “modern, efficient, diversified, environmentally-friendly and sustainable energy sector”.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Daryl Vaz (right), charges a vehicle at Jamaica’s first public electric vehicle charging station, during its commissioning at the Boot Service Station in Drax Hall, St. Ann, on Friday, May 7. Sharing the moment is President and Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Michel Gantois.

 

“The introduction of more clean technologies means we are driving steadily towards reducing pollution and our carbon footprint. This augurs well for the future. We want to realise Jamaica’s transformation into more smart, sustainable cities and communities,” he adds.

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