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Texaco Goes Solar


Avia Collinder, Business Reporter


Mauricio Pulido, chief executive officer of GB Energy Jamaica, says its supply network has grown to 62 service stations in the year and a half since acquisition of the Texaco assets.


Pulido also boasted of gains in the aviation fuel market, which he said was two per cent at GB’s takeover of the local Texaco network, but climbed to 17 per cent in 2013.


“For 2014 we are aiming to finish with 25 per cent of the market,” said the CEO, who also told Sunday Business that his next market incursion target is the bunkering fuel segment.


But the petroleum marketing company’s focus is not solely on building market share. It is also developing a renewable energy project in partnership with a three-year-old company called New Leaf Power & Conservation Solutions Limited to drive down cost of doing business across the network.


GB piloted the system on one of its Kingston service stations at 96 Molynes Road, from which Pulido says he is already reaping energy savings of 30 per cent.


GB Group acquired Chevron Caribbean’s fuels marketing and distributing business, and aviation companies in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and St Maarten in December 2012.


The deal included a network of more than 200 service stations operating under the Texaco brand, as terminals and aviation fuel supply operations.


When GB Energy acquired Texaco Jamaica assets the marketing company was then supplying 52 service stations.


“Now we are supplying 62,” Pulido said. However, just 54 bear the Texaco marquee, he told Sunday Business.


Of those 62 Texaco service stations, 35 of them are owned by GB Jamaica, of which two are operated directly by the company, while 33 are operated under licence to third parties.


“The other 27 have a supply agreement with us,” said Pulido.


“We may say that in number of service stations we are the largest network in Jamaica.”


In its push to contain costs, the company has initiated the installation of solar energy systems. The Molynes Road station was with a 19 KW photovoltaic system for day-time electricity consumption. Otherwise, the station remains dependent on power supplies from the national grid managed by Jamaica Public Service Company.


The agreement with New Leaf is for the roll out of solar over two years and the aim is to cover the entire network, but dealers are expected to invest in their own systems.


GB has initiated talks with he Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) in that regard.


“New Leaf is being supported by the Development Bank of Jamaica to provide finance assistance to our retailers to set up the system, based on their needs,” Pulido said.


The Molynes Road system utilised 76 solar panels and cost $4.7 million, but the plan is to eventually increase capacity to 45 KW, says Robert Wright, managing director of New Leaf,


Wright says the Texaco project is similar to one being done by poultry company Jamaica Broilers Group, which is encouraging about 50 farmers to retrofit.


Under the arrangement with DBJ, Texaco dealers will get up 75 per cent debt financing, with the loans priced at eight per cent per year for seven to 10 years.


The cost per station will vary, depending on the size of the operation, Wright said.


Pulido says the results of the Molynes Road pilot will eventually be presented to the Texaco retailers.


“It is up to them to take advantage. The intent is to reduce the energy bill for everyone,” the GB executive said.


“So far the results have exceeded expectations and we have started to see savings in the electricity bill of around 30 per cent per month, and we expect this to increase to 50 per cent once we can start returning energy to the grid,” he said.


Under the pilot, which included an energy audit, New Leaf installed the photovoltaic system and changed the main lights of the canopy – which is the roofing over the gas pumps – to LED lights.


The solar panels are positioned atop the roof of the gas station’s convenience store and so serves as a shade, which reduces the use of the air-conditioning unit, Pulido said.


“The utilities bill was around $500,000 before installation, and has now been reduced to $350,000 and is expected to be in the order of the J$250,000 in the coming months,” he told Sunday Business.


GB is also projecting annual savings of about $3 million per station across the network, for those who transform their energy systems.


Pulido says he expects such savings will benefit Texaco customers in the long run, saying “they will allow us to increase the investment in the service provided to keep the consistency and offer more fuelling positions”.


Since GB’s Jamaican entry, the company invested $200 million in the Texaco network, which Pulido said was spent on “operational changes and upgrades of some stations which needed reimaging”.



Category/ies:Jamaica News, News.
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