The Rural Electrification Programme (REP) will be renamed Jamaica Energy Solutions Limited (JESL), and given a new mandateto develop renewable energy solutions.
In his contribution to the 2013/14 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on April 24, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, explained that the REP has largely achieved its mandate, wiring 80,000 homes, and bringing Jamaica’s electrification rate to 98 per cent .
“Of the two per cent of the island that remains outside of the national grid, many are in remote areas more than three kilometres from the grid, and extending the grid to them would be economically unfeasible,” he said.
The new entity to be created will be charged with developing renewable energy solutions for those households further than three kilometres from the grid, to bring electrification to 100 per cent.
The JESL 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 population for those housing solutions.
Minister Paulwell said further, that the entity will partner with the Social Development Commission (SDC), Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), to arrive at a multi-faceted set of interventions aimed at combating electricity theft.
The REP was incorporated in 1975 with the specific mandate to expand the reach of electricity supply to rural areas.
The mandate of the REP was expanded in 2003 to include the Urban Electrification Regularization Programme, aimed at minimizing unauthorised connection in urban communities.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter