JIS News

The government of Jamaica will be embarking on a major public education campaign beginning next month, aimed at encouraging increased energy conservation to reduce the country’s spiraling oil bill.
Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, told JIS News that the programme was “going to be quite massive” and involve all media, in addition to schools, to get people to fully appreciate how they could play a role in alleviating the burden the country now faces with higher energy prices.
“We intend to have competitions and use music and drama and so on, to get people to buy into this objective of lowering our energy usage and I think we are going to be successful,” he stated.
The programme is expected to get underway on the first of November so other conservation projects now on stream would be wound up by the end of October. “So onwards from November, you won’t see any special month or day that will be dedicated to this thing (conservation). It is going to be every single day of the year and it’s going to continue even if we see the situation alleviating,” the Minister told JIS News.
He noted that one of the measures that would be put in place that could have a quick impact was to encourage the use of energy saving bulbs. “We believe that there is going to have to be a massive inflow and sale and distribution of energy saving bulbs. We as government might very well have to get into the business of distribution using Petcom .to lower prices,” he informed.
Further, the Minister said, “we are about to announce a major initiative so that people can borrow funds out of our Energy Fund to procure energy saving devices such as bulbs and we anticipate that with the new building codes, there are going to be certain requirements (in terms of) energy saving devices that will be mandated on the part of developers”.
The implementation of the conservation campaign is one of the suggestions coming out of this weekend’s high level Energy Retreat in Montego Bay, where directors and senior managers of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), Petrojam, Petrojam Ethanol, Petcom, Wigton Wind Farm among other partners, met to look at the worldwide oil crisis and what measures could be put in place to reduce the burden on the consuming public, and work being done to develop alternative energy sources.
“We had a number of issues to deal with. We wanted to ensure that we had clearly defined programmes and plans for the future; things that we could set targets for and work towards achieving,” Minister Paulwell told JIS News.
In addition to energy conservation measures, the stakeholders discussed the “PetroCaribe Agreement and how to ensure that we maximize the benefits of the agreement. We dealt a lot on the spin-off benefits in terms of the upgrade and expansion of Petrojam, the expansion and joint ventureship with Petcom and Pedevesa of Venezuela; we looked at the work we are doing in the oil and gas exploration efforts; we have taken certain positions in relation to ethanol in particular the greater use of ethanol locally with the abolition of MPBE as an octane enhancer; and also the role of the sugar industry to supply feed stock for ethanol production”.
Discussions also focused on “renewals and how we are going to now provide even more incentives to encourage the private sector to get involved in wind generated electricity, solar, hydro-power, biomass and biogas,” Mr. Paulwell said.
The Minister noted that it was clear from the retreat that the government had embarked on a number of projects within the energy sector. He said that there were at least 10 initiatives being pursued and “we need to ensure that the Jamaican people understand and appreciate why we are intending to do these projects and the purpose is single; to see how we can ease the burden on the consuming public”.
“Whether we talk about the upgrading of the refinery, oil and gas exploration or the Liquefied Natural Gas project, the bottom line is to try and find answers to this escalating price situation with energy and ensure that Jamaicans can continue to survive in this very, very difficult period,” he stated.