February 28, 2012

Jamaica energy minister says can’t afford light bill, switching to solar

Stating that he could no longer afford the high cost of electricity provided by the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS), Minister of Mining and Energy Phillip Paulwell said he was now installing a solar-energy system at his home and he urged Jamaicans to do the same.

“As the minister of energy, I am going to incorporate renewable energy at my home. And if every single person look at how much you spend, and put aside that money to pay for a solar system, in seven to 10 years, you would have paid for it, and then, thereafter, the cost you derive from that is zero,” he said.

Addressing the People’s National Party (PNP) Region Three meeting of its Regional Executive Council yesterday at the Pembroke Hall High School in North West St Andrew, Paulwell said it was an essential investment and urged Jamaicans to take up the solar-energy system loan being offered by the National Housing Trust (NHT).

Power to consumer

“This is where people power can be most effective to transform the landscape of our energy situation … . The Government ought not to be involved anymore in determining what is best, that power should be in the hands of the consumer,” said the minister.

He said it was time to open JPS to competition, as it was only through competition that companies of that nature would pay more attention to consumers and stop taking them for granted.

Competition, he said, would also drive companies to seek better and cheaper fuel sources.

The energy minister told The Gleaner that he has been using a solar water heater for the past eight years and that lights outside his house are solar powered.

“What I am doing now is that I am stepping it up. I can’t afford JPS anymore so I am going solar photovoltaic,” he said.

The NHT is currently offering loans to contributors to install solar panels or a solar water heater system in their homes.

The loan for the solar-electricity panels, which can be used to generate electricity, is being offered at the current interest rate for a maximum of 15 years, while the loan for the solar water heater is for a maximum period of five years.

Last week, JPS outlined a five-year plan to reduce the cost of electricity by up to 40 per cent; however, this depends largely on liquefied natural gas becoming the alternative source of energy.

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