With support of a US$20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the first phase of the Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation programme has been launched. It will be executed over a four-year period.
It is expected that this phase will realise a reduction of 13,886 barrels of imported oil, a decrease of 22,609 MWh of electricity consumption and US$9 million annual savings in the cost of electricity.
Over 20 years the programme is estimated to have a net present value of US$133.1 million and economic rate return of 125 per cent. It is expected that each ministry and agency will be impacted by the programme. This will be reflected in greater efficiency in the use of energy and result in consumption and cost reduction.
The current cumulative electricity bill for public sector entities is over $13 billion per year.
Addressing the launch of the programme at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston, on May 2, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining(STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, declared that the high public sector electricity consumption is untenable and action is needed. “We’ve talked the talk long enough. Today, the Government of Jamaica is taking the first step in walking the walk,” he said.
The Minister cited the 2009 IDB-financed Energy Efficiency and Conservation Technical Assistance Project (EECTA), which assessed the Government’s annual energy consumption as well as the opportunities for energy conservation.
“According to the EECTA report, the Government of Jamaica’s annual energy consumption is in excess of 411.3 GWh, representing approximately 12 per cent of total electricity consumption in Jamaica,” he noted.
The Minister emphasised that now more than ever, as the country faces major economic challenges, something must be done, and that “while we realise that we cannot control the cost of energy, we can control our consumption, and it is there that we need to make significant adjustments in our energy consumption habits."
Mr. Paulwell said that under the programme going forward, there will be a direct effort to eliminate inefficiency in lighting and air conditioning, which the energy audits revealed to be the primary areas of electricity consumption in public sector buildings.
He enumerated specific activities under the programme which include:
• Replacing incandescent and inefficient fluorescent lighting systems with much higher efficiency LED fittings.
• Improving the insulation and sealing of building envelopes to reduce heat loading and air conditioning requirements.
• Replacing old and inefficient air conditioning systems immediately, following the building envelope retrofits.
• Implementing a system for monitoring and evaluating to ensure the sustainability of the initiative and;
• Identifying and training, within ministries, teams of ‘energy wardens’ and operating maintenance personnel to oversee the aims of the programme are achieved.
The Minister explained that some US$17 million of the loan will be invested in hardware, and that the programme will also involve education in best practises for energy efficiency. He observed that some of these practises require no capital expenditure, but will result in additional significant reduction in consumption and cost.
Providing examples, the Minister pointed to a number of the things that can be implemented almost immediately. These include: optimising the lighting in public sector buildings to enhance the use of natural lighting and eliminate unnecessary fittings; and having air conditioning systems which can be operated “at an optimal temperature,” to avoid over-cooling and wasted energy.
“We can also make ourselves familiar with, and use the energy efficiency codes adopted by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica. These codes include optimum temperature and humidity settings for air conditioners, optimum lighting levels for various work areas and other standards that can guide our behaviour in a standardised manner,” the Minister advised.
He also noted that the benefits of the programme are not limited to energy, as it will also result in the creation of jobs.
“As we all know, unemployment is one of the Government’s biggest challenges today, and we as Government champion any move that will get our people to work. This programme will employ energy auditors, engineers, architects, as well as suppliers of air conditioning and energy efficient fixtures to install over 5,000 air conditioning units islandwide and over 100,000 lighting fixtures. This is sure to have a ripple effect on the entire economy,” the Minister said.
Mr. Paulwell reiterated the administration’s commitment to the reduction of Jamaica’s oil import bill and in that regard believes that the Government should lead the way in the effort. “Our programmes and activities toward energy conservation and efficiency ought to be the benchmark by which other institutions measure their role and actions in what will become a national campaign to reduce energy waste,” he said.
“It is against this background that I implore heads of Government agencies, Ministries and other public sector institutions to examine the findings of the audit, make a determination of where you are and what you need to be doing to reduce your energy consumption,” he added.
The Minister declared that responsible officers, including permanent secretaries, and heads of departments and agencies will be held to account.
He said that his Ministry and the Government now have access to the electricity bills of “every single government entity and we will be monitoring those bills.”
“With your current consumption as your benchmark, please be advised that starting today, your energy consumption must only go down. If you increase consumption over your current level, you can expect a negative impact on your overall budgetary allocation,” he warned.
The Minister charged public sector leaders to “step up our game” and urged them to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Reporter