JPS moves closer to renewables
The Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd (JPS) has announced the formation of a Renewable Energy Integration Group (REIG) within the company to help fast-track the addition of more renewable energy to the electricity grid.
The formation of the internal team to assist the Government of Jamaica to achieve the national energy policy goal of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2030 was one of the commitments made by JPS shareholders at the just concluded Jamaica Investment Forum in Montego Bay. The commitment was made as Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, indicated a need for the country to accelerate the pace in adding more renewable energy.
"We're fully committed to helping to get more large-scale renewable-energy projects on the grid because renewable energy is an important part of the fuel-diversification strategy," JPS Chairman Hisatsugu Hirai told the minister after a meeting with potential energy investors. He explained that JPS believes there are excellent opportunities to be explored in the renewable energy arena, such as waste-to-energy, biofuels and co-generation using bagasse. Hirai gave his commitment that JPS would be working closely with the energy minister, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) and other interested parties in this regard.
Marubeni Corporation and Korea East West Power (EWP) also pledged to work closely with the Government to share knowledge and introduce new energy-efficient technologies to assist with energy management in the public sector. Hirai and EWP Director Sang Kie Cho hosted a welcome reception for over 300 international and local investors, government officials, private-sector leaders and members of the media attending the forum.
They used the opportunity to outline the plan of JPS and its shareholders to invest over US$600 million to construct a new 360MW generating plant fuelled by liquefied natural gas. The investment will be the single largest Foreign Direct Investment project in modern Jamaican history, and is expected to cut electricity prices by 30 to 40 per cent when the plant comes fully on line in January 2015. Given the continued volatility in world oil prices, which account for two-thirds of the price of electricity, the JPS chairman urged greater use of energy-efficient technologies and conservation to manage through this difficult period.
The newly formed REIG will assist investors with technical data and other information to assist them in their decision-making, and will also assist in the process of getting approvals from the OUR for connection to the grid as quickly as possible. The group will also be working closely with the OUR to finalise a few outstanding issues in order to allow customers with small renewable facilities of up to 100kW to sell their excess energy to the grid under a standard offer contract.
JPS currently owns close to 40 per cent, or 25MW, of the renewable energy now serving the grid through six hydroelectric plants and a wind farm. The company is investing US$26 million this year to double the capacity of its Maggotty hydroplant, the first hydroplant construction in Jamaica for nearly 50 years.