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The House of Representatives has begun debating Jamaica’s first National Energy Policy (NEP), which promotes creation of a modern, efficient energy infrastructure expected to boost economic development.
Opening the debate at Gordon House Tuesday (October 5), Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. James Robertson, said the policy “examines the energy situation we face and proposes a range of options and strategies which the government is committed to pursue over the short, medium and longer term”.
He pointed out that it will support the country’s national development plan, Vision 2030 Jamaica, and incorporates actions with global trends, such as climate change, energy conservation and efficiency and renewable energy.
Mr. Robertson noted that it also establishes linkages with other sectors, such as agriculture, transport, construction, bauxite, and finance. These linkages seek to achieve policy coherence in fulfilling the country’s energy goals.
Specifically, he noted that the policy includes the promotion of an energy base that includes natural gas, ethanol, solar, wind, mini-hydro, biomass (including bagasse) and other biofuels.
“In addition, it envisions the development of indigenous energy sources, which could possibly involve further oil and gas exploration, both onshore and offshore,” he said.
The Energy Minister also stated that another critical plank of the 2009-2030 NEP was the establishment of a modern, well-defined legal and regulatory framework for the energy sector, which seeks to protect investors, consumers, and the environment against unsafe conditions and practices.
“It is further expected that government ministries, agencies and other state entities will distinguish themselves as models of energy conservation and environmental stewardship.similarly, it is envisioned that the productive sector and individual households will embrace eco-efficiency and green economy,” he stated.
One important aspect of the activities surrounding the policy is a review process, which will be done every three years, unless earlier reviews are required.
The implementation of the Policy will be led by the Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), assisted by several departments and agencies of government. However, the Minister said that the involvement of all stakeholders is fundamental to its successful implementation and, as such, the Government will be seeking the support and assistance of non-state stakeholders, including the private sector, non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations.
The Ministry also continues to receive financial and technical assistance from international development partners, he added.
Some policy targets have been met to date, such as the completion of the first three-year action plan, in April 2010. The objective of this planning period is to decrease the country’s dependence on imported oil and improve efficiency in energy use. Additionally, a number of investors have been selected for negotiating construction of a Floating Storage Re-gasification Unit (FSRU), and requisite pipeline structure, as the Government moves to introduce Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) into the energy mix.
The LNG project will be implemented as a private sector financed build, own and operate project. This form of energy is expected to save the country at least US$300 million per year on energy importation costs.