THE Rural Electrification Programme (REP) has been mandated to work with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to promote the use of solar systems in a bid to reduce electricity theft.
Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining Phillip Paulwell says this initiative is in tandem with other theft reduction efforts, such as regularising supplies to communities.
Paulwell was speaking at the opening ceremony for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Analysis and Investigation for Low Emission (AILEG) project symposium, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, yesterday. The minister added that the REP has also been mandated to complete its target of providing electricity to 100 per cent of rural areas.
“Those three per cent that now remain are in areas that are so far from the grid, it is too expensive (to provide), and we are going to be deploying photovoltaic systems in these areas,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Paulwell challenged the private sector to establish facilities to manufacture solar panels. “There is no reason why we should not be moving to establish an industry, whether assembling or manufacturing solar panels, not just for Jamaica, but for the entire Caribbean. Energy is big business,” he stated.
On the matter of climate change, Paulwell said Jamaica must prepare for, and mitigate its effects, which he described as “very real”.
“Just as storms and hurricanes affect every single facet of our lives, so too will the effects of climate change, if we are not prepared,” he emphasised, noting that the Government has been making bold steps to deal with climate change, particularly with the addition of the climate change portfolio to the Ministry of Water, Land and Environment.
He pointed out that already, that ministry was establishing a climate change division, which has set up a climate change committee to enhance co-ordination among stakeholders, and to advise the Government on matters related to climate change.
Paulwell further outlined that in his ministry, the final National Energy Action Plan will guide the implementation of the National Energy Policy and help to keep focus on achieving benchmarks.
The two-day forum aims to build the capabilities of the Government and other stakeholders to analyse low-emission situations, and integrating them into economic development, strategic planning, and implementation.
Issues being discussed at the symposium include: low- emission growth for development; analysis and investment for low emission growth; low-emission development strategy in the Jamaican context; requirements for low- emission considerations in national planning; and the status and way forward for policy, programming, planning and financing for climate change.
Exerpts from : Jamaica Observer