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Government aims to slash light bill by J$2b

Published:Wednesday | February 20, 2013 | 12:00 AM

The Government aims to slash its J$13 billion annual light bill by some 15 per cent across the public sector in part as a pre-condition of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan agreement.

The savings would amount to approximately J$2 billion per year.

"We as a Government spend $1.2 billion per month on electricity ... up from $500 million a month in 2008," said energy minister Philip Paulwell at the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce energy forum Tuesday.

"It is a critical component of the IMF agreement to reduce our electricity bill and we will have to do so by specific amounts."

In furtherance of this conditionality the energy ministry has assembled a team led by project manager Richard Gordon to implement a programme rooted in National Energy Conversation and Efficiency Policy 2030.

The policy developed since 2006 aims to reduce Jamaicas dependence on fossil fuels via conservation, implementation of diverse fuels and green energy into the mix.

Paulwell declined to reveal the level of reduction required as a conditionality of the IMF. However Gordon, an engineer by profession told the forum that "we would like to see a 15 per cent reduction.

A sizeable chunk of the government's energy bill relates to the National Water Commission (NWC), which requires energy to run its pumps at some J$6 billion annually. Street lights cost the government some J$3 billion annually.

The energy conservation project focusses on government offices and street lights. It involves more than simply replacing incandescent lights with efficient LED lights. Other measures include coating roofs with heat reflective paint set to reduce heat by 40 per cent; in conjunction with improving interior insulation aimed at reducing air conditioning by some 20 per cent.

"We will also be relaxing the dress code at ministries where you might not have to wear one of these," Paulwell said pointing to his tie. "Guayaberas and bush-jackets for men would be appropriate. I would not feel dissed if you dress like we are in a tropical climate."Gordon said the energy policy estimated that US$100 million of spending on conversation projects throughout government would have provided a return on investment in 2.5 years. It was not immediately clear the actual budget for implementation of the project.

"Energy efficiency is a growth area in the economy. If you have US$0.30-US$0.40 per kilowatt hour for electricity it provides you an opportunity to make a bankable proposition to your financiers to reduce energy. And through the saving you can easily pay off that loan," Gordon said.