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Government to craft electric vehicle policy

Published:Thursday | February 28, 2019 | 12:00 AM

The Government is to place major focus on the development of an electric vehicle policy, which will create an enabling environment for the use of technology in the public transportation space.

Electric vehicles are believed to be significantly cleaner and safer for the environment than traditional gas vehicles.

Science, Energy and Technology Minister Fayval Williams said this innovation represents part of the Government’s commitment to creating a “diversified, environmentally sustainable and efficient energy sector that provides affordable and accessible energy supplies to Jamaicans”.

She was addressing a meeting with participants in a Canadian Clean Technology (Cleantech) business mission to Jamaica, hosted by the Canadian High Commission at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday.

Clean technology refers to products, processes or services that reduce waste and require as few non-renewable resources as possible.

Williams noted that implementation of the electric technology represents one area that could benefit from the application of public-private sector partnerships.

She said that the ministry will strengthen the regulatory and institutional framework to increase private investment and transition to cleaner fuel by finalising regulations for net billing, auxiliary connections and power wheeling.

This, she said, will allow persons to generate their own energy from renewable sources.

The Cleantech business mission, which arrived in the island on February 25, is comprised of eight Canadian companies that are interested in doing business in Jamaica’s clean technology or renewable energy sector through partnerships.

Williams, in welcoming the delegation, said that the local industry is ripe for such investment.

new phase

“The stage is set to explore and share ideas for joint ventures, and our local business community welcomes the partnership as both our nations enter a new phase in our clean/renewable energy journey,” she noted.

High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica Laurie J. Peters, for her part, said her country is committed to continuing to support climate resilience in the Caribbean through investments in climate-smart projects and mobilising private-sector financing.

“Adapting to climate change and building climate resiliency into critical infrastructure requires both public- and private-sector investment,” she noted.

She cited BMR Energy’s Wind Project as an example of such public-private partnership, through which Canada provided US$10 million, via the Canada-International Finance Corporation Blended Finance Programme, to support the initiative. In return, the project mobilised US$27 million in private investment.

“The project is already generating cost-competitive clean energy while at the same time reducing Jamaica’s reliance on expensive, imported fossil fuel and is demonstrating, to future investors, the bankability of wind farms here in Jamaica,” she noted.

Senior regional energy specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, Dr Malaika Masson, in support of public-private partnerships in renewal energy, said the agency has been in dialogue with the Office of Utilities Regulation and the private sector in developing an action plan in furtherance of Jamaica’s “electricity mobility”.