By Garth A. Rattray
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Conservation Unit, consisting of chief conservation officer - Assistant Commissioner of Police Leon Rose, Inspector of Police Carodean Samuels, constables Janice Spicer, Leonie Morris, Tadgy Kiffin and Gavin Beckford, partnered with the JCF fuel and utility suppliers, organised and strengthened management systems to quantify, track and monitor consumption patterns, analysed data and responded to fuel and energy-use variations with alacrity.
In spite of the difficulties in promoting conservation and encountering existing outdated systems, the Conservation Unit succeeded in achieving a 90 percent compliance with the vehicle-management system, more than 50 per cent compliance with waste-reduction strategies, a 60 per cent increase in accountability/interest in monitoring resources, and a 95 per cent awareness level of conservation measures.
This has translated into a total fossil-fuel savings (petrol and oil) of about $80 million (between January 2011 and September 2012) and telephone savings of $4.4 million (for August and September 2012). Electricity savings were about $350,000 per month, which is $5.95 million (from May 2011 to September 2012), but the electricity savings are projected to go as high as $800,000 monthly, plus anticipated rebates. The water savings, although tangible, have not yet been quantified.
In order to achieve real sustainability, the JCF Conservation Unit plans to put into operation a reward programme, driver identification numbers for use with the Advance Card (for purchasing petrol), upgrading energy-consuming appliances, employing energy-saving measures and developing sensitisation programmes in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM).
The JCF's modern-day approach to energy conservation aligns itself well with the STEM document, Toward Energy Efficiency And Conservation In The Public Sector, dated May 2, 2012. Succinctly put, the document outlines the heavy financial burden that the utilities impose on the public sector. It estimated that the public-sector electricity consumption for 2012 alone will cost us more than $13.4 billion.
Over the past seven months, the Ministry of Finance's monthly warrant allocations to various government bodies for utilities alone were $515,371,000 (in April), $521,873,000 (in May), $525,230,000 (in June), $593,782,000 (in July), $526,860,000 (in August), $515,765,000 (in September) and $548,148,000 (in October) - and sometimes that cannot make the payments.
The STEM document spoke to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Technical Assistance agreement (August 21, 2009) between the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government of Jamaica. The goal is the "identification and assessment of energy-efficiency opportunities in the public sector".
The publication depicts numerous existing energy-wasting devices and conditions. It outlines retrofitting solutions - like the tinting of windows, more energy-efficient air-conditioning units, setting thermostats at energy-efficient levels, turning off lights and taps, reflective roof applications, proper insulation, energy-saving LED bulbs and the utilisation of solar energy, among other measures.
It all falls under the umbrella of the National Energy Policy 2009-2030 (put before Cabinet by the Honourable James Robertson, October 2010). The policy is holistic and takes into account fuel imports, global energy trends, conservation, renewable energy sources, climate change and interfaces with public-sector entities in an effort to achieve our energy target.
The stated (main) tenets of the National Energy Policy are: "specifically designed to encourage wise energy use, energy conservation and efficiency nationally through discrete projects aimed at reducing the nation's energy bill". This covered a wide range of projects from imported fuel acquisition, drilling for oil and alternative fuel.
In speaking to Parliament, Minister Robertson emphasised, "It is further expected that government ministries, agencies and other state entities will distinguish themselves as models of energy conservation and environmental stewardship."
The JCF deserves special commendation given its remarkable successes in an organisation more concerned with the dangerous task of crime fighting.
Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleaner and firstname.lastname@example.org