Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the Government firmly believes that it is the private sector that should drive investment in energy projects.
He said the duty of the state is to create the enabling environment for investment and then for regulating that environment to ensure that the rules are fair and that everyone observes them.
"We have taken the important step in creating the legislative environment. We now need to improve on the bureaucracy of our regulatory environment because we need those investments to bring in jobs and we need to reduce our crippling oil bill," he stated.
The Minister was speaking at a stakeholder workshop yesterday (Oct. 9) at the PCJ Auditorium in New Kingston, for the design of a streamlined process for private sector investment in renewable energy projects, particularly hydropower projects.
Jamaica's renewable energy market is fully liberalised and open to competition, following the Senate voting unanimously on Friday (Oct. 5), to approve the Extension of Functions Amendment Order, removing the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's (PCJ) exclusive right to exploit and develop renewable resources to Jamaica. The move followed similar action by the House of Representatives the previous week.
The Minister said the move "is in keeping with the goals of our national energy policy, which calls for a modern, efficient, diversified and environmentally sustainable energy sector providing affordable and accessible energy supplies."
More than 14 government ministries and agencies with responsibility for regulating and legislating various components of the hydropower developmental process, are participating in the training workshop, which is being held over two days.
Noting the importance of the training, Minister Paulwell said the process for approvals, permitting and licensing for small hydro development is "extremely time consuming" as various agencies need to be consulted.
"Right now, Jamaica needs a local approvals process which is time sensitive with clear indications as to how long the entire process will take cognisant, of course, of fitting into the overall time frame of the complete business process. We need a local approval process, which is interactive… transparent so that investors know how many steps are included and which ones to take," he said.
The training is being delivered by experts from the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (US FERC), and will address issues including, energy infrastructure siting, laws and regulations, licensing processes and interagency interactions. FERC will provide advice based on their experience regulating the hydropower sector in the USA.
The Government has received financing from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development towards the cost of the Energy Security and Efficiency Enhancement Project.