Holness optimistic Ja will become gas hub for Caribbean
Prime Minister Andrew Holness is optimistic that Jamaica will become the hub for gas in the Caribbean and promises that his government will be strategic in its efforts to diversify the country's energy sector.
"Renewables will have to feature in a far greater way in our energy mix. The falling oil prices give us a window of opportunity to bring in new technology, to bring in new investors," he said yesterday during an interview with Jamaican journalists at the US Caribbean Central American Energy Summit in Washington, DC. The summit was held at the Department of State.
"The emphasis (will be) on diversification in ensuring that we are the hub that will reduce our exposure to volatility," he said.
Holness, along with other regional leaders, met with United States Vice President Joseph Biden yesterday morning for a Caribbean Heads of Delegation meeting. He said the exchange has given him some insight into how other countries in the region are using alternative energy for their electricity, water, and transportation sectors.
"I think we will have to look more closely at our transportation sector, particularly the JUTC (Jamaican Urban Transit Company), which are fairly heavy users of oil and heavy fuel, to see how best we can get energy efficiency from diversifying their fuel use," he said.
BURDEN FOR JAMAICA
The prime minister noted that energy has been a burden for Jamaica for many years, but he believes that several initiatives implemented by Biden and US President Barack Obama over the years have contributed to finding solutions to the problem. Obama reinforced his administration's commitment to assist the region with exploring clean-energy solutions when he launched the Task Force on US Caribbean and Central American Energy Security during his visit to Jamaica in April 2015. Just a few months prior to the launch of the task force, Biden hosted the first US Caribbean Central American Energy Summit.
The US has provided clean-energy finance for countries such as Jamaica through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the USAID. The US-owned BMR Energy is also currently building a 34-megawatt greenfield wind farm in St Elizabeth valued at US$90 million.
"What we have said at these seminars is that Jamaica is open for investments in the energy sector," said Holness.
The prime minister said discussions with Biden went very well as they reviewed progress made in the local energy sector last year and discussed plans for this year. He noted that there are some imperatives that the Jamaican population would have to become aware of such as the strong global movement towards clean energy.
"What is clear is that there is great appreciation for what we have done as it relates to our regulations, making it attractive for investments in the energy sector to come to Jamaica," he said.