KINGSTON — Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. Clive Mullings, says that Jamaica will benefit from a US$90 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to improve energy efficiencies within the public sector.
Mr. Mullings said that, in the first instance, an initial US$20 million drawdown will cover institutional strengthening, energy efficiency and conservation. The areas being considered include lighting and air conditioning, which are among the least energy efficient.
"We need to look, in a sustained way, on how we can replace some of the hydrocarbons that are utilised in our air conditioning units and in our refrigerants, to see how best we can bring down the cost of energy in our homes and our businesses," he said.
He was speaking at the launch of the first annual Caricom Energy Week (CEW), at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), New Kingston, on Thursday (November 3),
The Energy Minister said that, under the loan facility, US$1.2 million will be set aside for demand side management, energy efficiency and demand conservation, involving educational awareness and the establishing of national energy efficiency institutions. He said the Ministry will also focus its attention on diversification and conservation, in a bid to reduce the country's energy bill.
He warned that it is critical for Jamaica to continue to steadfastly pursue a diversified energy strategy, to offset the impact of high energy prices, and reduce dependency on imported oil and heighten energy security.
Mr. Mullings proposed that the strategy take into consideration all available possibilities in order to improve the country’s energy future.
"We must implement the strategies that will revolutionise our domestic consumption patterns, manufacturing and productive processes. This includes renewable energy, natural gas, and all the possibilities, because we cannot afford to put all our eggs in one basket, as we have done before,” he argued.
He said that each Jamaican has a part to play in improving the energy bill, through simple conservation methods that can result in massive savings.
"We have to have a paradigm shift in how we think, to take control of our energy future," he remarked.
"We must have the kind of focus to understand that energy is a precious resource and, therefore, not only our high electricity bills ought to be a concern, but that concern must reflect itself in how we strategise in utilising the use of energy in a rational and effective way,” he added..
Caricom Energy Week (CEW) was the brainchild of the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM), and was launched in Jamaica under the theme “Energy Security for a Sustainable Future”. CEW will be observed November 6 to 12 this year, and during the second week of November in subsequent years.
The initiative is expected to stimulate thought and encourage discussion on key energy issues, as well as initiate action in the area of energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy.
Activities will include lunchtime presentations in various secondary schools in Kingston, and tours of PETROJAM, Wigton Wind Farm and JPS Hydro Facilities by students. The Northern Caribbean University will host the Mandeville Energy Forum on Wednesday, November 9, and there will be an Energy Awareness Expo at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona and a Panel Discussion at the University of Technology (UTech) on Thursday, November 10.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter