Jamaica to supply rural homes with solar power, wind energy

16,000 homes in remote parts of the island which do not have electricity are to be supplied with solar energy or wind power electricity through the Rural Electrification Programme (REP), Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell disclosed on Friday.

Paulwell said these homes represent three per cent of the population that is not connected to the national grid. He said many of these homes are more than two kilometres from the grid.

"The mandate for the REP is to go out there and find these 16,000 homes," Paulwell said. "The plan is to upfront the cost (of the solar and wind electricity systems) to the owners of these properties in the form of a loan and over time they pay back the money used to put in these systems from the saving of not having to pay electricity bills. We are confident that in five to ten years, we will be able to achieve 100 per cent."

Paulwell was speaking at the Energy Conservation Incentive Programme for Schools awards ceremony at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.

He also announced that his Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining will be implementing a two-year energy conservation programme in government entities at a cost of $1.2 billion.

Under this programme, more than 100,000 compact fluorescent lamps will be replaced by the more efficient LED lamps, and over 5,000 air conditioning units across Government agencies and ministries.

Paulwell said the programme seeks to cut Government’s $7.2-billion electricity bill by 30 per cent.

He also promised incentives for persons wishing to get involved in electricity production from renewable sources such as solar, wind and water (hydro).

However, Paulwell said although more people are producing their own electricity "there will be enough business for JPS because there are commercial enterprises that cannot operate using renewables".