JIS News

Jamaica’s economy is highly energy intensive and heavily dependent on the use of imported oil. In light of the country’s escalating oil bill, it is imperative that the nation explores alternative sources of energy and put measures in place to reduce consumption.
The Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) has been mandated by the Government to develop and facilitate private sector investment in renewable energy sources and to coordinate the government’s energy efficiency programme.
“It is very important that as a country, we change the way we use energy”, says Energy Efficiency Coordination at the PCJ, Cleveland Smith. He adds that as a developing country, “because our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has not increased significantly. it is not profitable for us to be incurring a national bill of almost US$1 billion per year. We need to look to the resources that are at our disposal.”
Mr. Smith adds that the need for alterative sources of energy has become even more critical with the recent surge in oil prices, increasing instability in the Middle East and the increased risk of terrorist attacks.
One initiative by the government to reduce the dependence on traditional sources of energy and promote the use of alternative sources is the Hospital Energy Efficiency Project.
Mr. Smith explains that under this project, “there are energy auditors, who go into various hospitals and assess the energy effiency of that hospital in terms of their water heating, air conditioning and lighting system.”
He adds that, “from this assessment, a report is done.which is then given to our project engineer at the PCJ. From these reports, we then formulate a plan of action as to how best to expedite the process to get these hospitals to operate on a more energy efficient level”.
Mr. Smith notes that so far, four hospitals have benefited from this Hospital Energy Efficiency Project. These are the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Cornwall Regional Hospital, Princess Margaret, and the St. Ann’s Bay Hospital.
At some of these hospitals, incandescent lamps were replaced with compact fluorescents, and solar water heaters systems were installed. Power factor correction equipment were also installed, and insulation of steam distribution lines was also carried out.
Mr. Smith says that while it might not be possible to implement such a programme at all the hospitals across the island, so far, the PCJ has done “walk through audits at 18 other hospitals and full scale energy audits at five hospitals as well as 10 health centres across the island”.
Another effort by the government to promote the use of alterative sources of energy among Jamaicans is the Energy Conservation Incentive Programme, which is a joint venture involving the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, the Consumer Affairs Commission, and the Ministry of Local Government and Environment.
Marcia Browne, Corporate Affairs Officer at the PCJ, explains that this programme benefits students from 13 inner city high schools. The students visit the PCJ where they learn from posters and power point presentations about the importance of energy conservation.
She notes that both teachers and students have been very receptive and some schools have now incorporated the presentations as part of their curriculum.
The Corporate Affairs Officer reveals that, “last year in December, a team of students from 13 inner city schools were given brochures with energy conservation tips and were send out on a two-day door-to-door campaign in the communities. They spoke to householders about how they can save energy and so on. The response was very good,” she says.
The schools that are a part of the Energy Conservation Effiency Programme are: New Day Primary and Junior High, Tivoli Gardens High, Constant Spring Primary and Junior High, Papine High, Penwood High, Charlie Smith High, Trench Town High, Edith Dalton James High, Holy Trinity High, Haile Selassie High, Dunoon Technical High, Denham Town High, and St. Anne’s High.
The latest initiative by the government to conserve on the country’s high-energy usage is the Jamaica/Cuba Bulb Programme. Under this project, the Cuban government has donated four million compact fluorescent lamps or energy saving bulbs to replace the incandescent bulbs.
Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell, says that the average lifespan of the bulbs was 10 times that of the incandescent bulb, and that they were four more times more efficient. “Our calculations indicate that if a 100-watt incandescent bulb is replaced by a (fluorescent lamp) of equal intensity, this would yield savings of approximately $200 per month based on most recent residential electricity rates,” he informs.
“Imagine the savings that will result when householders change all incandescent bulbs to fluorescent. I am advised by the experts that this would reduce our consumption by 80 megawatts.
Whichever measurement you use -dollars or megawatts – the savings are significant. This means that as a country, we will be able to avoid the capital investment to install additional power generating capacity”.
The Minister also points to the environmental benefits of the compact fluorescent bulbs, noting that replacing only three incandescent bulbs with fluorescents could eliminate 750 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. “This benefits our people, our tourism product and there is potential for earning carbon credits from the product”.
Mr. Paulwell elaborates that, “these bulbs will add to the lives of Jamaicans in a positive way. It will improve their standard of living by reducing the energy they consume, thereby reducing their electricity bill”.
He notes that although the energy saving bulbs were more expensive, “consumers will, in the long run, retrieve the additional expense and save significantly on their electricity”.
The Minister points out that frequent follow-up and assessments will be done to monitor and examine the success of the pilot project, as plans were in place to roll out the initiative nationwide, once the assessment showed that electricity use was significantly lowered.
So far, some 83,466 bulbs have been distributed free of cost in the communities in East Kingston and Port Royal and East Rural St. Andrew.

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