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State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, has re-emphasised the Government’s commitment to energy diversification and conservation, noting that money saved on energy can be injected into the economy.

Speaking at a stakeholder workshop, hosted by the Ministry, in collaboration with Worldwatch Institute, at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on November 27, the State Minister told participants that, “we are committed to having 30 per cent of our energy mix from renewable sources by the year 2030."

“We are also examining other fuel sources…the LNG project is on the way; the government’s role has changed, but we are committed to having LNG in the country hopefully by 2015, and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is building a 360 megawatt plant in Old Harbour.”

He further informed that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) on November 26, issued a request for proposal for 115 megawatts of renewable energy, and that the first net billing customer has been connected.

Net billing allows JPS customers who own renewable energy generators, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic (solar) systems, to generate electricity for personal use, as well as sell excess energy to the light and power company at wholesale prices set by the OUR.

“We are also committed to conservation, and we have a project where we hope to achieve a 30 per cent cost savings in public sector energy conservation over a three-year period,” he stated, pointing out that as part of the project, there is an affirmative action policy in place for procurement, whereby any local company which has a bid that is within 15 per cent of an overseas company, will be awarded these contracts.

“We believe we must develop local capacity and we must develop the expertise to solve our own challenges here,” Mr. Robinson said, adding that, “if we are able to successfully adopt these strategies, we can bring the cost of electricity down significantly.”

Worldwatch is designing a low carbon energy roadmap for the Ministry, which will allow for better harnessing of renewable energy sources; provide solid socio-economic data; and provide recommendations that decision makers can execute to bring about a more sustainable energy future for the country.

A Washington DC-based globally focused environmental research organisation, Worldwatch helps to inform policymakers and the public about the complex links between the world economy and its environmental support systems. One of its main objectives is universal access to renewable energy.