St. James, Jamaica (JIS) — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says a concerted effort must be made by countries in the region to be less dependent on oil.
Addressing the opening of the Organisation of Caribbean Utility Regulators (OOCUR) conference at the Secrets Resort in Freeport, Montego Bay, on October 26, the prime minister said that opportunities that are available through energy diversification must be embraced.
“We must get it right. Energy is clearly the mission-critical frontier and it is all within our collective interest to get on that train,” Holness said.
The prime minister pointed to the role of Jamaica’s Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) in helping the country to bring in Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as an energy option.
“I applaud the OUR for being a strong regulator and helping to make this move a reality and also for taking Jamaica on this new platform. This is a great example of collaboration among Government, regulator and utility providers,” Holness added.
The prime minister also cited the shipment of LNG, which arrived in Montego Bay on October 22 aboard the feeder vessel Anthony Veeder to be channeled to the JPS Bogue power plant.
He lauded the JPS’s investor partner New Fortress Energy for its US$750-million investment, saying it is a symbol as to where “we want to go in the area of sustainable energy production”.
The prime minister said the Bogue plant is expected to be fully operational in two weeks, making LNG usage a reality.
Holness said that regulators have an obligation in helping the Caribbean Community to implement the Caribbean Energy Policy, which promotes a shift in sustainable energy through increased use of renewable energy. The policy was approved in 2013.
“It is not only Jamaica that is focused on diversifying its energy mix, but so too is CARICOM, and we must get it right in the region. Access to affordable energy is a necessary requirement for addressing sustainable development in the region,” the prime minister emphasized.
For his part, chairman of the OUR, Joseph Matalon, said apart from the historic LNG shipment, Jamaica is also officially targeting 20 per cent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2020.
He noted that 2016, in particular, has seen the commissioning of some 80 megawatts of renewable energy-generating capacity, inclusive of the largest and first utility scale solar project in the Caribbean — the 20-megawatt photovoltaic facility in Clarendon.