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Concerns raised over JPS LNG plant

Published:Monday | May 21, 2012 | 12:00 AM

At least one expert has serious concerns about the Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd's (JPS) plans to build the country's first liquefied natural gas (LNG)-fired plant at a cost of J$52 billion in St Catherine. The 360-megawatt plant is touted to reduce the country's electricity bill by 30 per cent.

Denzil Williams, head of the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, said he was not convinced this was the right move because if it backfires, it could cost Jamaica dearly.

Serious issues to consider

"If we get LNG going and if we build this plant, then we can see some savings in our electricity bill but, when you go into the details of it, you recognise that it is not just about building the plant, but there are some more serious issues we have to consider," he noted.

Speaking during a public forum on 'The Budget, The Debt, The Future' hosted by Jamaicans United for Sustainable Development at the Department of Management Studies at the University of the West Indies last Thursday, Williams said there were some critical questions that needed to be considered.

"What if LNG does not come to Jamaica? What if there is a disruption in the supply of LNG? What is the backup fuel if LNG fails?" he asked.

He said at this stage, there was no clear indication if these things were considered by the relevant authorities and if an effective backup plan was in place.

"If we do not secure that source of LNG and get it over on this part of the shores and they have to use that combine cycle gas turbine plant to power electricity later on, we will be in a more dangerous position than before. Because we will be using a much more expensive backup fuel, as the combine cycle gas turbines can only use automotive diesel oil," said Williams.

He said the Office of Utilities Regulation should publicly address these concerns.