REP Pushing Ahead to Provide Electricity for All

Photo: JIS Photographer Residents of Bottom Yard, in Bath, St. Thomas, bask in the glow of the street light which was symbolically turned on by Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, on Tuesday (July 23), to mark the formal provision of electricity by the Rural Electrification Programme (REP) Limited, at a cost of $2.5 million.

Story Highlights

  • REP pushing ahead to provide electricity for the remaining three per cent of rural communities islandwide
  • Project estimated to cost upwards of $7 billion to complete the task
  • REP’s operations are funded primarily through government subventions

General Manager of the Rural Electrification Programme Limited (REP), Garfield Daley, says the agency is pushing ahead to provide electricity for the remaining three per cent of rural communities islandwide, which do not currently have the service.

“This is what we will be doing over the very short to medium term. We will be going full speed ahead to ensure that we complete our mandate,” he assured.

The General Manager informed that it is estimated to cost upwards of $7 billion to complete the task.

This figure, he informed, “should cover the thrust in terms of traditional pole lines, connection to the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) grid and also the introduction of renewable energy technologies.”

The General Manager was speaking to JIS News after a ceremony to turn on lights in the community of Bottom Yard, in Bath, St. Thomas, on July 23.

He advised that on completion of the current electrification thrust, an additional 20,000 households are expected to have access to electricity through connection to the national power grid.

The REP was incorporated in 1975 with the specific mandate of expanding electricity supply to rural area communities. The entity has successfully wired over 80,000 homes in rural communities, since its inception.

These include households St. Thomas, Manchester, and St. Elizabeth, where projects were undertaken over the last six months at a cost of over $12 million. An agency of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, the REP’s operations are funded primarily through government subventions.

Having achieved some 97 per cent electricity coverage in rural communities, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, announced during his 2013/14 Budget Debate presentation in Parliament, that the REP will be renamed Jamaica Ener­gy Solutions Limited (JESL), and given a new mandate to develop renewable energy solutions.

He indicated that these solutions will, among other things, target the remaining rural households yet to receive electricity.

The Minister further said the new entity will also promote energy efficiency and conservation; and provide project management services for the design and implementation of energy solutions for major housing initiatives by agencies of the State, espe­cially where low-income earners are the targeted beneficiaries.

Mr. Paulwell also advised in July that as part of this development, Jamaica will partner with Cuba for the transfer of knowledge and technology to facilitate the local manufacture and assembly of cost effective photovoltaic (solar) light panels.

This undertaking forms part of the administration’s move towards incorporating renewable alternatives into Jamaica’s energy mix, so as to reduce the country’s huge energy bill.

Mr. Daley told JIS News that based on these developments, the REP will be undertaking specific projects “to generate our own revenue,” adding that “we have projections that those revenues can be significant.”

“So, those (projected) revenues, along with what normally comes from government,  should provide the resources to enable us to complete these projects (to install electricity in rural communities),” he said.

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