LETTER OF THE DAY - Real people power
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I read with great interest the column 'Power thieves affirming principle' by the Rev Garnett Roper, published in your Sunday edition of May 25, 2014. I would like to congratulate Rev Roper on his cogent analysis of the issue of the stark unaffordability of electricity to large swaths of the Jamaican population, within an enlightened perspective that - like health services, education, food, shelter, water and livelihood protection - access to electricity, in 2014, undoubtedly constitutes a fundamental human right.
A recent IMF finding that more than 40 per cent of the Jamaican population subsists on less than the equivalent of US$2 per day confirms that significant numbers of households would be hard-pressed to meet the cost of subsistence levels of consumption of electricity.
The table below, based upon what is likely to constitute basic electricity consumption for a four-family household with two income earners at the US$2 threshold, clarifies the point.
The calculations above suggest a daily cost of electricity at basic levels of consumption of J$190. This implies that with two income earners per household earning at the threshold US$2 per day, electricity consumption would account for 43 per cent of total household income.
PUBLIC POLICY RESPONSE
The real issue, as correctly identified by Rev Roper, is defining an appropriate public policy response to guarantee access to electricity as a fundamental human right.
In this regard, I would like to suggest that, as a joint-venture programme, the Government and JPS engage the inner-city communities in an Urban Electricity Entrepreneurship Programme based upon the establishment within these communities of solar panel assembly facilities for rooftop generation of photovoltaic electricity.
If it is appreciated that each 1,000 square feet of rooftop space could potentially generate in excess of 28kWh of electricity per day, the whole concept of people empowerment takes on a whole new meaning in terms, not only of energy self-sufficiency, but also sustainable wealth creation within impoverished communities.
The PetroCaribe Fund represents an appropriate source of seed capital.