The Government has renewed its commitment to providing electricity at affordable costs to remote communities and marginalised groups across Jamaica through a rebranded Rural Electrification Programme (REP).
The programme was incorporated in 1975 with the specific mandate to expand the reach of electricity supply to rural areas, where the provision of such services would not be economically viable for commercial providers of electricity.
Going forward, the REP’s rebranding will entail a shift from “rural electrification” to “diversified energy solution provider” said Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell.
Addressing a meeting of the new REP board at the programme’s Washington Boulevard offices on Monday March 19, Minister Paulwell said the shift will ensure that the “mandate of REP is in sync” with the government’s policy focus on renewable and diversified energy sources.
In this regard, REP will, overtime, seek to provide cost-effective and affordable energy to approximately five per cent of Jamaican households that are currently not electrified, most of whom are classified as rural and marginalised.
This objective is consistent with the new administration’s intention to “enable marginalised groups access to electricity at affordable rates”.
The Energy Minister emphasised that given the high cost of oil-based energy and the price vulnerability caused by tensions in the Middle East, the use of solar technology is emerging as a competitive and low cost energy source.
The REP is now charged with the responsibility of conducting a survey, which will inform the implementation of policy and the promotion of a massive public education programme designed to achieve acceptance of the new technology, as well as the increased practice of energy conservation measures.
Minister Paulwell charged the new REP Board, under the chairmanship of Dr. Garnet Roper, to adhere to good governance and transparency, particularly with respect to the procurement of goods and services.
He also advised the leadership and staff to consult and properly engage those being served and to respond to their issues and concerns in a timely and compassionate manner.
By Allan Brooks, JIS Senior Reporter,