Editorial a disservice to Ministry's conservation efforts
Allan Brooks, Guest Contributor
While your editorial of Saturday, September 20, under the banner 'Consumers must conserve' emphasises the critical importance of energy conservation across the board, it does a disservice to the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and its dedicated staff, who, in short order, have been doing a great deal to lead by example and to reduce the annual public-sector electricity bill of some J$14 billion (approximately US$150 million) by 30 per cent over four years.
The US$20-million investment loan provided by the Inter-American Development Bank is in support of efforts to meet the objectives of the Government's energy-efficiency and energy-conservation measures while showcasing the public sector as a model for energy conservation.
In addition, under the World Bank programme a US$4.6 million line of credit has been established to enable medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) to enhance their energy-efficiency potential and renewable energy development. As at March 31, 2014, a total of US$1.92 million was disbursed.
Under the energy-efficiency and conservation programme, selected government facilities are being retrofitted with solar control film and or cool roof solution. These entities will eventually receive air-conditioning and lighting retrofits.
Four public facilities - Spanish Town Police Station, Sugar Industry Authority, National Housing Trust and the Development Bank of Jamaica have been retrofitted with solar control film. Thus far, these facilities have shown an overall reduction of 183,755 kWh usage, with cost-savings of J$7,350,208 since installation.
Another seven facilities were retrofitted with both cool roof solution and solar control film and have shown an overall reduction of 270,117 kWh saving J$10,804,680 since installation. These public buildings include - Office of the Prime Minister (Jamaica House), Central Sorting Office, Jamaica Information Service, Jamaica Defence Force HQ, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Electoral Advisory Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture.
Over the 18 month period, the 11 facilities show a reduction of 453,944 kWh and total savings of J$18,157,768.
With respect to air-conditioning systems, one contract has been awarded for the installation of energy efficient air-conditioning retrofits at a cost of approximately US$2.6 million. The contract was awarded to Geddes Refrigeration Limited on November 26, 2013 and the project is slated for completion by the end of October 2014. Facilities to be retrofitted include Tax Administration Jamaica (Donald Sangster Building), Montego Bay Revenue Service Centre, Kingston Public Hospital and the Jamaica Information Service. To date, approximately US$1.4 million or J$158 million has been expended.
Additionally, Cabinet gave approval on August 7, 2014 for the installation of energy-efficient air conditioning retrofits at a cost of approximately US$2.8 million. The public facilities being retrofitted under that contract include The Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Finance and Planning, National Blood Transfusion Service, and the National Public Health Laboratory.
Another contract for the supply and installation of energy-efficient window/split air conditioning units was approved by the National Contract Commission on August 28, 2014 and received Cabinet approval on September 22, 2014.
To reinforce these efforts, a public education campaign was launched earlier this year. The strategy is to use a multimedia approach to promote energy conservation among all stakeholders. The Ministry's energy conservation measures also emphasise a stringent "energy budget" to which all Government offices are instructed to adhere.
While the five per cent import duty on LED bulbs and solar water heaters is undoubtedly a game-changer, it is not meant to eclipse the focussed and arduous task of implementing practical conservation and energy-efficiency solutions.
Your quote from Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips' presentation as he tabled the new measures is very apt as the Minister emphasised that the abolition of the tariff was in keeping with the "Government's overall policy of encouraging energy conservation".
Allan Brooks is Communications Specialist in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.