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  • More than 20,000 Jamaican homes are expected to be powered by clean, affordable, renewable energy to be generated from the US$61 million solar electricity plant, being built in Content District, Clarendon.
  • Electricity produced by this 20-megawatt plant, the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, will replace approximately three million gallons of fossil fuel per year.
  • Construction of the state-of-the art facility will now get underway, following an official ground breaking ceremony at the site, on July 9.

More than 20,000 Jamaican homes are expected to be powered by clean, affordable, renewable energy to be generated from the US$61 million solar electricity plant, being built in Content District, Clarendon.

Electricity produced by this 20-megawatt plant, the largest of its kind in the Caribbean, will replace approximately three million gallons of fossil fuel per year.

Construction of the state-of-the art facility will now get underway, following an official ground breaking ceremony at the site, on July 9.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, who spoke at the ceremony, welcomed the establishment of such a “massive” facility in Jamaica, deeming it another example of  the country’s leadership in undertaking initiatives of that magnitude.

She noted that the project is of strategic national importance to Jamaica and is one of three successfully selected proposals from among 24 other projects which competed to provide a total of 115 megawatts of renewable energy to the Jamaican power grid.

“The investment in this non-traditional energy source is significant for a number of reasons. It is sound business and a welcome new economic activity. It is expected to employ some 60 persons in its construction phase,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

The Prime Minister further noted that the project is also moving the country another step closer to achieving the energy policy objective of having at least 15 per cent of its energy mix coming from renewable sources by 2020.

“Today we are renewing the commitment of my Government to the development of clean, affordable, renewable energy. Our energy policy reflects the commitment to diversify our energy mix and during this administration’s tenure, we have taken concrete action in the implementation of this policy,” she said.

This new energy source, the Prime Minister said, will also serve to reduce the country’s dependence on expensive imported petroleum products, which currently satisfy approximately 95 per cent of Jamaica’s energy needs.

She lamented that at the end of last year, Jamaica’s oil import bill exceeded the value of exported goods by over 118 per cent. The country also imported over 20.5 million barrels of oil at a cost of some US$2 billion, representing 11.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“More renewable energy to the power grid will help us to reduce electricity costs. This is something that we must achieve in the shortest possible time, to cut costs for businesses and households and drive economic growth,” Mrs. Simpson Miller said.

To span 160 acres, utilizing 91,800 photovoltaic panels, the facility will supply electricity exclusively to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS). It will be built and operated by Content Solar Ltd., a wholly-owned Jamaican subsidiary of Florida-based WRB Enterprises Inc. Construction is expected to be completed by next year.

WRB Enterprises was selected in January 2013 by the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) to develop the facility. In August last year, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, granted the licence which facilitated the power purchase agreement with JPS.

Financial support of $47 million was provided by Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the United States Government’s Development Finance Institution.

This is the second OPIC-financed project in support of the Caribbean Energy Security Initiative, which is a U.S. Government effort announced by Vice President, Joseph Biden, in June, 2014.