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JIS News

KINGSTON — Minister of Energy and Mining, Hon. Clive Mullings, says there is "great merit" in the argument for imposing a ban on the high energy consuming incandescent bulbs used in households.

He notes however, that Government would have to tread carefully in examining any such prospect, as there are other considerations, such as the cost of the energy saving fluorescent bulbs to the average consumer.

“There is great merit in the argument but …it would have to be a Cabinet decision if it gets there in terms of dealing with incandescent bulbs,” Mr. Mullings said in a recent interview with JIS News.

“The fact is that the energy-saving bulbs are more expensive so maybe it’s a question of balancing, but we have to get there, because we are facing a crisis,” he stated.

President and Chief Executive Officer of Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Damian Obiglio, recently called for a ban on the use of incandescent bulbs, as part of the solution to reducing electricity bills.

 A normal incandescent bulb produces about 15 lumens (visible light) per watt of input power and only has a 750 to 1,000-hour lifespan.  A fluorescent lamp, on the other hand, can produce between 50 and 100 lumens per watt of input power, and, with a lifespan of 6,000 to 15,000 hours, it is eight to 15 times more efficient than an incandescent bulb. 

Compared to general-service incandescent lamps giving the same amount of visible light, fluorescent lamps use less power (typically one fifth). A 15-watt fluorescent bulb produces the same amount of light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb. 

The purchase price of a fluorescent bulb is higher than that of an incandescent lamp, but can save over five times its purchase price in electricity costs over the lamp’s lifetime.

As to whether Government could provide a subsidy for the purchase of the fluorescent lamps, Minister Mullings said this would not be possible at this time due to the strict guidelines of the standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He noted however that alternate methods could be examined that would have an impact on the price of fluorescent bulbs.

“I think it’s an opportunity to look at how we could have a preferential rate for the energy saving bulbs and that could be the trade off,” he suggested.

He argued that because the electricity bills are high and the savings generated from using fluorescent bulbs are real, then entrepreneurs would be wise to source the bulbs from the cheapest manufacturers and bring them to Jamaica.

Minister Mullings applauded the Cuban government for its decision to donate energy saving fluorescent bulbs to Jamaica.  These, he said, have helped tremendously in reducing energy consumption.

 

By O. RODGER HUTCHINSON, JIS Information Officer