Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has announced plans to establish a National Energy Council (NEC), to work with other stakeholders to implement the recently drafted National Energy Policy.
"I intend to invite the Opposition Spokesperson on Energy to sit with me, as the leadership of that Council,” Mr. Paulwell said at Thursday’s (January 19) press briefing at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica’s (PCJ) auditorium, New Kingston.
The Council, which is expected to be convened in three months, will also include members of the private sector, civil society and the business community, to allow a wide cross section of Jamaicans to join in the discussions about the nation’s energy supply, security, management and general usage.
"We want those persons to be a part of that grouping which would meet once per quarter, to ensure that the objectives of the policy are being achieved and to hold us to book,” he stated.
"In fact, that Council is going to have the responsibility, so they themselves will be held up to account, for the lack of, or as we hope, the over performance in relation to achieving the goals of the National Energy Policy,” he added.
Mr. Paulwell reiterated Government’s commitment to removing the issue of energy from “the cut and thrust of our politics”, in an effort to “see how we can achieve greater consensus, especially since we had done so in respect to our energy policy”.
He said that the government is committed to pursuing energy security, through fuel diversification.
“We are aware of the LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) project and have received updates on that project,” he remarked. “It appears to us that gas might very well be the quickest fuel source that can come on stream, but we are also committed to a proper diversification.”
He noted that government would be looking into other alternate fuel sources, including Petcoke, wind and solar, as well as hydro. As it regards renewable energy, Mr. Paulwell argued that the issue of renewable resources must be brought back to the forefront of discussions.
He said that one of the main matters that he will be bringing to the NEC, is expanding the ratio between fossil fuel sources and renewable fuel sources from 20 per cent up to about 30 per cent by the year 2030.
“That is a mammoth task, if we are to achieve it, but let us be ambitious. Let us strive to enable what we have here, our sun, rivers, the wind to enable us to cut the cost of imported energy and to make our energy security that much more focused,” he stated.
The Energy Minister further noted that he would also be looking at the current tax regime governing renewable energy components. He says he plans to re-examine the list of exemptions and concessions, with a view to making urgent recommendations to the Ministry of Finance, within the context of the government’s realities.
By Athaliah Reynolds, JIS Reporter