KINGSTON – Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, said the government is looking to spend some $1.2 billion over the next two years to undertake several energy saving initiatives within public sector entities.
He stated that the money spent "will be recovered in the same time frame because of the tremendous savings that we are going to be able to achieve".
Minister Paulwell was speaking on June 15 at the awards ceremony for the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica's (PCJ) Energy Conservation Incentive Programme for Schools, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in St. Andrew.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller, during her Budget presentation on June 5, announced the implementation of a mandatory energy efficiency and conservation pilot project aimed at cutting the public sector electricity bill by 30 per cent.
The cost of electricity used by government entities is estimated to reach $13.4 billion this year.
Cabinet, on Monday (June 11), reviewed a proposal for the implementation of the project, which will also focus on education and awareness.
Minister Paulwell informed that under the project over 100,000 compact fluorescent lamps will be replaced with LED lamps and "we are going to be changing over 5,000 air conditioning units across the government, again, an area that utilises so much energy."
Turning to the Energy Conservation Incentive Programme for Schools, the Minister commended the students and teachers for their input, which has led to a successful competition. "I think it is important for our young people to be part of the energy transformation that we have to achieve in the near-term," he stated.
Students from 33 primary and high schools received close to $1 million in prizes at the awards ceremony.
The programme, which ran throughout the 2011/12 school year, involved close to 1,000 students and 75 teachers from 50 schools island-wide, who competed in essay, science and poster contests, and participated in educational seminars and guided tours of energy operations throughout Jamaica.
Students, who submitted outstanding entries, were awarded cash awards and other prizes from the PCJ and its partners including the PetroCaribe Development Fund, PETCOM, Jamaica Public Service Company, Half Moon Hotel and Resort, and Sandals.
Daryl Webley of Titchfield High in Portland was the winner of the high school essay competition, while Antonette Anderson of Mount Hermon Primary and Junior High, also in Portland, won in the primary/prep school category.
For the poster competition, Lloyd Crawford of Green Pond High in St. James place first in the 16 to 19 age group category; Junior Smith from Mount Hermon walked away with the top prize for the 11 to 15 age group; and in the 6 to 10 age category, Demar Brackenridge of Harbour View Primary copped the top award.
For the science segment of the competition, St. Andrew Technical High copped the top award in the high school category; while the St. Thomas-based Port Morant Primary and Junior High won in the prep/primary school category.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter