Thu | Sep 21, 2017

UWI to leave JPS grid next year

Published:Wednesday | March 8, 2017 | 3:00 AMJovan Johnson
Professor Archibald McDonald
Professor Sir Hilary Beckles
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In another major cost-saving venture, the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) has said that by next year, it will come off the grid of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), the island's sole power distributor.

The university recently approved a contract to complete the building of a cogeneration plant.

"At the moment, we're paying JPS US19 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Once we get off the grid, which we expect to do within the next year, that cost will fall to US 12 cents per kWh," said principal Professor Archibald McDonald at a press briefing on Monday after presenting the campus' report for the 2015/2016 academic year to the council.

"The company that we are partnering with is Wartsila out of Finland. Wartsila will operate the plant and train the School of Engineering to take over the management of the plant. When that is done, the cost will be decreased by another three cents, so we'll be producing energy at the cost of about 8-9 cents kWh."

 

REDUCING DEPENDENCE

 

McDonald, whose leadership vice-chancellor Hilary Beckles has hailed as "brilliant", said the campus has been pursuing a mix of revenue streams as well as containing costs, especially in light of the declining government subventions.

Just last December, the UWI, Mona campus ended its dependency on the National Water Commission by commissioning its own wells to serve the campus.

He said the results so far have seen the student population grown to 18,200, making Mona once again the largest of the four UWI campuses.

"The real value of these projects is for the next generation. In 15 years, when the capital expenditure has been paid out, the entire thing (plant) will be turned over to UWI and we'll be generating energy at a cost of about 5 cents per kilowatt hour," the principal stated.

... Excellent academic report, says Beckles

Vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Hilary Beckles, said the report for the 2015/2016 academic year of the campus was "excellent".

Speaking of UWI's Mona campus principal, professor Archibald McDonald, he added, "Our campus here is in excellent hands, and his report indicated not only the brilliance of his stewardship, but his willingness to confront the challenges facing the campus."

He said the broader vision is to take UWI out of the region through greater 'internationalisation' as one way to boost regional economic and social development.

Beckles also said there were no plans to increase tuition, outside of adjustments for inflation, for the September school year.

The Mona administration came under pressure last month over housing developments on the campus and the fees students were being charged. McDonald said there was no plan to roll back any of the fees and noted that fees were structured so students could access cheap options.

Jamaica plans to give $8.7 billion to UWI for the upcoming financial year. The University of Technology is to receive $1.9 billion.

jovan.johnson@gleanerjm.com