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Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the Government’s decision to open the renewable energy sector to private investors is working.

He said the recent “oversupply” of proposals to the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) for alternative energy projects, is a clear indication that the policy “is right”.

Minister Paulwell, who was addressing an energy forum at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Thursday, June 6, informed that at the closure of bids on June 3, for the supply of 115 megawatts of renewable energy, OUR had received 28 project proposals from 20 companies, covering 800 megawatts of capacity.

[RELATED: Strong Legal Framework Required for Biofuels Production – Minister Paulwell]

Minister Paulwell said the 115 megawatts of capacity will save the country over 700,000 barrels of imported oil.

“It is a good sign; it shows that the policy is working, and it shows that people are responding. Eight Jamaican companies submitted bids; that is what we want to see, that is what we want to encourage,” he stated.

As part of the energy policy, the Government is aiming to have 30 per cent of energy generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Minister Paulwell stated that with the bauxite companies now free to pursue their own energy solutions, the industry is set to rebound.

“We now have a timetable for Ewarton, operated by UC Rusal, to transform itself using coal. We are seeing now, even with anticipation of that, Ewarton is at 100 per cent production, with greater productivity to come.

“At Alpart, their decision is to go gas by 2016, and at Jamalco, we are going to be pursuing a coal option. There is tremendous future in the bauxite alumina industry once more, because this major issue of energy has been dealt with,” the Minister stated.

The forum, held under the theme: ‘Energy Entrepreneurship for National Economic Growth’, was organised by the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), and the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPAJ).

It included a showcase of products and services in the energy sector, and a discussion session where information was provided on loans from the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); the viability of renewable energy in modern construction; entrepreneurship in the energy sector; and the operation of an energy-focused business in Jamaica.

Contact: Garfield Angus